UK serves key role in saving EU from energy crisis says expert
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Germany, France and Italy are promising measures to contain the impact of energy prices on their economies, with rebates on petrol for consumers. But the bloc’s biggest economies have been lambasted for their continued subsidies to Russia’s economy.
In 2019, 27 percent of the EU’s crude oil imports came from Russia.
Director of Eurointelligence Wolfgang Munchau blasted the bloc’s inability to cut ties with Moscow, branding the EU’s latest moves “hypocritical”.
He said: “While the EU is less reliant on Russia for oil than for natural gas, this still means a lot of money sent to fund Vladimir Putin, almost $100bn in 2021.
“With a petrol rebate and no oil embargo, which would be unfeasible because it could lead to retaliatory sanctions, that means EU countries literally subsiding Russia’s government.
“Increasing defence spending makes less sense to us if you’re also sending more money that Russia can use to rebuild its army, and counteract the weapons you’re sending to Ukraine.
“It’s also the height of hypocrisy to cheer on Ukrainian bravery, while EU governments send more money Russia’s way to kill more Ukrainians.”
Italy plans to approve this week a new package to help consumers and firms cope with surging energy costs.
The latest price-capping scheme in the energy sector comes on top of some €16 billion (£13.4bn) already budgeted since last July to try to soften oil and gas prices.
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The package is expected to be funded by a series of compensatory measures, including clawback measures on profits made by energy companies, Italian officials said.
It will therefore not weigh on the public deficit, which the Treasury is keen to reduce to 5.6 percent of growth this year from 7.2 percent in 2021.
In France, French Prime Minister Jean Castex has announced plans to but bills by introducing a rebate of €0.15 per litre fuel from April 1.
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Mr Castex said the rebate will save €9 for those who fill up a €60 tank.
In the Netherlands, the Dutch government has been cutting taxes on energy bills since January 1, announcing a programme worth €3.2 billion (£2.7bn).
Excise duty has also been dropped by 17 cents per litre of petrol and 11 cents per litre of diesel.
According to estimates, Dutch consumers should save an average of €400 per year per household.
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