Scholz's "bazooka" under fire from Europe

The German government last week agreed on a 200 billion euro gas price cap to cushion the burden of soaring energy costs for consumers and businesses. The move drew heavy criticism from other EU countries and also the EU Commission. Does the relief package give Germany an unfair advantage over other member states?

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Naftemporiki (GR) /

Chancellor doesn't understand his European side job

Naftemporiki calls on the chancellor to show greater awareness of his international responsibility:

“The chancellor's job is to defend the interests of the Germans - but without undermining the interests of everyone else. A 'yes' to a Europe-wide cap on gas prices would not get in the way of him doing his 'job'. But to be able to say that he would have to understand something else (something which Merkel - despite pinning the blame for energy dependence on Russia - seems to have better understood): what it means to be at the helm of the EU's largest economy. This is another 'side job', and it remains to be seen whether he wants to or is able to take it on.”

Új Szó (SK) /

Unilateralism has a long tradition

Berlin's unilateralism in energy policy goes back decades, foreign policy expert Botond Feledy explains in Új Szó:

“If Germany had been open to the idea, there might have been joint energy procurement and several so-called interconnectors linking national grids, as well as a better mechanism for EU-wide solidarity regarding the use of national storage facilities. Now we see the storm coming and realise that we have been left standing naked. German governments, irrespective of their ideological orientation, have always supported Nord Stream.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

EU states once again looking out for themselves

It is hypocritical of Giorgia Meloni, who is so focused on her own country's national interests, to criticise Germany, says La Repubblica:

“Giorgia Meloni doesn't like Europe 'à la Meloni'. As always, Europe is showing its worst side in the turbulent weeks that follow a crisis and precede difficult decisions. It happened with the financial crisis of 2012, when the Covid epidemic broke out, and in the recession that triggered. Each time, the EU eventually managed to find adequate responses. But first of all we regularly witnessed an inglorious 'every country for itself' where the logic of national interests, so important to the sovereignist head of Fratelli d'Italia, prevailed.”

Frankfurter Rundschau (DE) /

Billion-euro package for social peace

The bailout comes not a second too soon, the Frankfurter Rundschau comments:

“Although it has not yet been spelled out in detail, the gas price brake will be met by a population whose nerves are frayed and whose prosperity is being steadily chipped away. More and more people now view the government's policies with scepticism, or even oppose them altogether. The government, in turn, is rightly sticking to its support for Ukraine and welcoming war refugees and deserters. The current developments are dangerous, however, because the doubters and the desperate can be won over by those who exploit every crisis to delegitimise the state. And precisely this could cause the next crisis which - as Putin intends - would be grist to the mill of anti-democratic forces.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Market is being artificially inflated

Germany's decision to act unilaterally on this is damaging for the EU, criticises Corriere della Sera:

“The Berlin government's intended tough response to Putin risks weakening the European front. ... The 200 billion provided by Berlin will continue to inflate an artificial market based not on the actual availability of gas, but on the financial expectations of a few unscrupulous players. Europe's regrettable slowness in adopting a common price cap for natural gas is now turning into a serious setback for the EU integration process. In the long run, this will be damaging for the individual member states.”

Diena (LV) /

The state's possibilities are limited

Shortly before the parliamentary elections the Latvian government has decided to reimburse half of the electricity costs to households paying more than 160 euros per megawatt hour. Diena comments:

“The question remains whether this support will be sufficient to stop companies from shutting down one after the other. Of course, we must take into consideration that with the unstable epidemiological, geopolitical and economic conditions that have prevailed since the spring of 2020 any company may find itself in difficulties and need state assistance. But in the long run state support cannot be the only source of funding keeping a company afloat. ... The state's possibilities to invest money in rescuing companies are not unlimited.”