Energy prices, from petrol and diesel to natural gas, have been the real driving force behind inflation in Europe in the last two years, putting a strain on household budgets.
A series of country reports published between October and this month by the consultancy firm Cambridge Econometrics makes systematic a consideration that is there for all to see.
As far as Italy is concerned, for example, the study shows that fossil fuels (fuels and gas) contributed around 30% to the overall inflation rate recorded in the spring of this year. Electricity prices have also increased significantly, due to the high share of natural gas in the Italian electricity mix. With heavy repercussions on families: according to Cambridge Econometrics, the increase in energy and fuel prices means that in 2022 an average Italian family will be impoverished by 1,400 euros compared to 2020. And the lowest income households spend 50 % more than two years ago for energy and transport.
Similar picture in the other major European countries
In France between August 2020 and this year, energy prices grew by 37% against inflation of 9.2% and the impact of fossil fuels on high prices is even greater than in Italy, almost 40 percent. The average impact on household budgets is slightly more contained, here 410 euros poorer than in 2020.
Also in Spain fossil fuels accounted for about a quarter of the inflation recorded between May, June and July of this year. The increase in energy costs had an average impact of 550 euros on household wealth, but weighed even more than in Italy on the lowest incomes, who will spend 70% more this year than in 2020.
The measures put in place by governments have intervened or are intervening to partly mitigate the surge in energy prices, which however inevitably end up weighing on the public accounts: in Germanyfor example, where the average household energy bill registers an increase of 735 euros this year compared to 2020, the Government has launched extensive subsidies or tax rebates, committing resources equal to 5% of GDP.