"Sometimes you have the feeling that there is no end to the crises" lamented Alexander De Croo as he announced a new raft of measures to tackle the country's long-simmering energy crunch.
The Belgian premier allowed himself only a fleeting lapse into world-weariness in what was an otherwise upbeat press conference, more Henry V ('Once more unto the breach!') than Macbeth ('Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow').
Yet De Croo could be excused a moment of jaded submission when reflecting on the seemingly unending succession of scourges afflicting the continent, of which Belgium is the institutional heartland. Whilst it is the role of leaders to steer a nation towards calmer waters, few would contest that Europe has weathered more than its fair share of storms in recent months.
Fresh in the wake of the pandemic – which we haven't completely seen the back of – the country has been struggling in the ever-tighter grip of energy woes are making themselves felt far beyond the fuel and heating sectors. Already yesterday, this translated to a rise in the index price for bread – a surge that the president of the Francophone Association of Bakers fears could spiral to truly unthinkable heights.
Fortunately, the worst will hopefully be avoided with a sensible set of measures that should relieve pressure across the economy. These will help keep company costs down alongside assisting individuals. In real terms, the package should save an average of over €10 when filling up at service stations as well as promoting trains as a cleaner, and crucially cheaper, form of transport.
So whilst the continent continues to be rocked by market volatility that will likely get worse still, there is some reassurance to glean from the measures Belgium is making available.
Struggling to see the silver linings? Let @Orlando_tbt know.
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