Belgium should act alone if EU doesn't agree to cap energy prices, Greens argue

Belgium should act alone if EU doesn't agree to cap energy prices, Greens argue

The Dutch-speaking Green Party (Groen) has argued that if no agreement is made on a European level to cap the energy prices, Belgium should take a stand and look for a way to do it independently.

The party is looking to reduce the skyrocketing energy bills in Belgium by introducing a cap on the prices. Groen party member and Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten emphasised that she will take measures if necessary, according to reports from VRT News.

The federal government already took some measures earlier this year in light of the energy crisis, including a VAT reduction on gas and electricity (from 21% to 6%), an extension of the social rate and a heating bonus of €100.

In the same month, the Belgian price for electricity reached a record-high at around €460/MWh. This month, a new record has been set, with an average of over €540/MWh being paid on the wholesale market.

Dramatic situation, but no new measures

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo already confirmed the fears, saying the next five to ten winters would be difficult, however, he failed to announce any new measures to combat the disastrous situation households in Belgium will face. According to Van der Straeten, there is little time to waste.

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and Energy minister Tinne Van der Straeten during a press conference regarding the measures taken to reduce the energy costs in March. Credit: Belga

In the meantime, the French government capped the increase in power prices at 4% until the end of the year, while the federal government of Lower Austria agreed on a price cap for residential electricity at €0.11/kWh.

The party's chair Nadia Naji and Jeremie Vaneeckhout mirrored the position that a price freeze on energy prices is urgently needed, adding that Van der Straeten already proposed a cap on gas prices on a European level months ago, at the start of the war in Ukraine.

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While there was some movement initially, with European heads of state coming up with an agreement on the subject back in March, an analysis of whether this is possible and how such a maximum price could be set is still ongoing.

"We hope that it can be arranged at the European level, but if it comes to nothing now, we will have to look at how we can do it ourselves as a country," the Green party stated. While Groen believes this can be done legally, it would require discussions with the energy sector.

"I will go to the government with a proposal for measures if necessary," Van der Straeten said, once again reiterating the need to address the excess profits made by energy companies on the back of the current crisis.

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