Anti-crisis measures, yes. But at the gates of an economic slowdown they must be more restricted if they do not want to cause an inflationary rise, which would further worsen the economic prospects. It is the main message that the finance ministers of the euro zone sent this Monday after a meeting in Brussels.
Two weeks ago, the European Commission urged all governments to focus aid against the energy crisis on the most vulnerable households and to reduce general aid, which was the general trend when the economic consequences of the war in Ukraine began to be felt. The message has been repeated for weeks, the barrage of aid in this current crisis – unlike the pandemic – only makes the situation worse.
The vice president announces that the free transportation measure will be extended
“As part of our response to mitigate the impact of high energy prices, we are working to make the measures more efficient, better coordinated, and sustainable from a fiscal point of view,” the approved document states. “In 2023 we will review our measures to ensure they are targeted and targeted at vulnerable households and companies that are temporarily exposed. [a los altos precios]”, he continues.
One of the initiatives that is on the table is that of a system similar to the one announced by the German government, which seeks to subsidize a part of the energy bills of companies and homes that need it most, but the rest, if a certain amount is exceeded. minimum consumption, must be paid at the market price. With a measure of this type, more targeted support is given while trying to reduce inflation.
In turn, the ministers insist that it is necessary to support the reduction of Russia’s energy dependence and accelerate the decarbonisation of the economy. This requires reducing consumption and, at the same time, encouraging investment in energy efficiency and infrastructure, such as interconnections.
To avoid tensions between the partners —as happened when Germany announced its plan of up to 200,000 million euros, which caused discomfort— the countries agree to coordinate support and ensure “the integrity of the single market.”
The measures applied so far have been widespread and although they have been able to respond to the initial shock, now is not the time to prolong them, especially the most indebted countries, including Spain. Although not alone. Barely 30% of the aid approved among the Member States has really been focused on the most vulnerable, according to the European Commission.
In this sense, the Vice President of Economic Affairs, Nadia Calviño, advanced this Monday that the Government is studying limiting energy aid, such as the reduction of VAT on electricity and gas or the discount on fuel. Although no decision has yet been made, she added that free public transport will be extended. She helps that Calviño qualified as a “star” of the Government because above all it benefits the middle classes and because it supposes “an efficient use of public resources.” The president of the Eurogroup, Pascal Donahue, has assessed that, despite being a matter of national competence, the ministers will analyze the aid “month by month”.