Leaders of Eurochambres, the European Association of Chambers of Commerce & Industry meeting in Prague today called for immediate measures to help businesses deal with spiralling electricity and gas prices. Specific suggestions from the chambers include targeted financial compensation for businesses, balanced energy saving policies and well-targeted, temporary market interventions.
With an emergency meeting of EU energy ministers scheduled for 9 September, chambers underlined the adverse economic impact of high energy costs on Europe’s recovery and competitiveness during a discussion with the Czech EU Minister, Mikuláš Bek.
“Extremely high energy prices could lead to curtailment of production, which would have disastrous consequences for businesses, the international competitiveness of the European economy and the labour market”, Eurochambres President Luc Frieden reiterated.
The European chamber network calls for solidarity and solutions to secure affordable energy for businesses and consumers with coordinated demand reduction measures being generally welcomed.
Chambers also insist on fair sharing of efforts between the different end-consumers. Households and the public sector still have considerable scope for energy savings, while businesses have already reduced much or their demand across many sectors. It is important to ensure that companies that have already made substantial investments in energy efficiency are not further burdened.
It should be easier to make additional investments into energy efficiency and renewable energy. “We urgently need targeted relief policies, including appropriate financial compensation for businesses, as well as fast permitting procedures for sustainable projects”, Mr Frieden added.
European Chambers of commerce and industry acknowledge that temporary market-based interventions could be necessary to secure affordable prices for end-consumers and to take financial pressure off businesses. However, it is vital to ensure that any measures taken do not impede the functioning of the internal energy market, or jeopardise decarbonisation, the security of supply and energy saving efforts. To avoid unforeseen impacts on cross-border energy flows between member states, we call for a solution at European level. Furthermore, the commission needs to present sufficient details on policy options and the interests of European businesses need to be considered.
Speaking after the Eurochambres meeting Eurochambres Deputy President, and Chambers Ireland Chief Executive, Ian Talbot said: “The energy crisis that we are experiencing at home is a European wide problem which urgently needs a European wide solution.
“Businesses across the EU need to see a stabilisation in energy costs if we are to be able to plan for the future. We are facing into an extremely difficult winter and everyone at every level will have to make enormous efforts to reduce their energy demands if we are to ensure that essential services are not disrupted, and livelihoods are maintained.
“Solidarity will be needed across the EU if we are to mitigate the worst of the impact of Russia’s energy restrictions. Within members states, solidarity will be needed across sectors and across communities to ensure that the most vulnerable can be supported.”