High energy prices: can Europe cope with the costs?

Energy prices in Europe remain at record high levels due to sanctions on Russian oil and reduced gas deliveries. Electricity prices hovered around 218 euros per kilowatt-hour on the exchanges this June, compared to 74 euros one year ago. Inflation also remains very high in the Eurozone at 8.6 per cent. Europe's press discusses priorities and strong nerves.

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Magyar Nemzet (HU) /

Living standards must not be sacrificed

Measures that adversely affect the domestic population are unacceptable, writes the executive director of the Hungarian Climate Policy Institute Máté Litkei in Magyar Nemzet:

“Some EU decision-makers envisage a fundamental deterioration in our standard of living to teach Putin a lesson. ... However, all the sanctions have achieved so far is to give Russia almost half a trillion dollars more in fossil fuel revenues this year than last. The EU has a moral obligation to condemn Russian aggression, but it has an even greater moral obligation to defend the interests of the member states and, in particular, the families living there and the businesses operating there.”

24 Chasa (BG) /

No alternative to massive aid for Kyiv

If it comes to widespread social unrest in Europe due to rising prices, Putin could seriously shake the unity of the West vis-à-vis his regime, says 24 Chasa:

“Some countries might launch independent negotiations with Russia, especially over profitable gas deals. Germany is the top candidate, where they were already considering plans to shut down chemical and fertiliser plants [even before the war due to high gas prices]. For this reason, the West must now immediately provide massive military, economic and geopolitical aid to Ukraine and pressure China and India to stop helping Russia.”

Radio Kommersant FM (RU) /

A war over energy - and who can keep their nerve

Radio Kommersant FM sees the confrontation escalating:

“There is a real energy war going on. In addition to the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline being closed for maintenance during the storage-filling phase, which is so crucial for Europe, the Caspian Pipeline Consortium, which supplies the EU with oil [from Kazakhstan] has also been cut off. Of course, officially technical reasons are being cited for this. In theory, this could all be up and running again if the West reconsidered its sanctions. ... Besides the energy war, there is also a war of nerves going on: who can hold out longer? Oil and gas trumps are powerful and hard to beat. But concessions aren't necessarily defeats either.”

The Times (GB) /

The price of showing solidarity with Kyiv

In the UK, demonstrators have blocked several motorways to protest high fuel prices. The British should be willing to make these sacrifices, The Times stresses:

“The anger is understandable. Fuel prices have almost doubled in the past two years. … That does not mean the government should give in to the protesters. The principal reason for the rise in fuel prices is the war in Ukraine. No war is costless. The western alliance has decided to fight this one not with blood but with treasure, in part by using its economic clout to sanction Russian exports including oil. Higher energy costs are the price of opposing the Russian invasion.”

Times of Malta (MT) /

Maltese have their own interests at heart

According to the latest Eurobarometer survey, values such as democracy and freedom are more important than price stability for 59 percent of EU citizens. This is not the case in Malta, however, where 63 percent of the population is more interested in price stability. The Times of Malta comments critically:

“Democracy and freedom remain 'abstract' for many Maltese, while money in the pocket is paramount, even as their brothers and sisters in Ukraine are being bombed out of existence. ... While Malta is not officially neutral on the war, it remains a distant event, something happening to others, something beyond our immediate interest or concern. Insofar as surveys go, a careful and reflective 'reading' of this Eurobarometer tells us much about ourselves.”

Observador (PT) /

Portugal faces tough choices

The Portuguese government must act quickly, writes energy expert Mário Guedes in Observador:

“In the first months of 2022 Portugal had to import more than a billion euros worth of electricity from Spain. ... Portugal must not wait for the weather to solve its energy problems. Otherwise, in addition to the economic disaster we could face electricity rationing. It is therefore important that the government listens to the experts. It must seriously consider the alternatives for coping with the country's substantial electricity deficit, even if it means reactivating the Pêgo coal-fired power plant.”

Blog Damijan (SI) /

The West's strategy is catastrophic

People fail to recognise what the sanctions will mean for them, economics professor Jože P. Damijan worries on his blog:

“Above all the majority who naively trust the leading media, who uncritically pass on the statements of the political leaders that with sanctions on imports of oil (and gas) we only have to put more pressure on Russia and deliver even more weapons to Ukraine, and then the situation will resolve on its own. ... If we continue to pursue this European 'strategy' vis-à-vis Russia, or if Putin decides to cut off all gas supplies to Europe, Europe may end up freezing in the darkness and cold this winter, and a large part of its industry could come to a standstill. This could lead to a deep recession and skyrocketing inflation, and people would end up fighting over bread and petrol and oil.”