FACTBOX – Europe’s efforts to shield households from soaring energy costs

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LONDON – Energy prices for millions of British households are set to soar from April after the country’s regulator Ofgem said on Thursday that it would raise its cap on the most widely used tariffs by 54% due to record global gas prices.

The rise comes amid record global gas prices which have forced governments across Europe to plough billions of euros into measures to shield consumers.

Below are some of the measures announced so far:

BELGIUM

Belgium said earlier this month it will cut value added tax on electricity as part of a package to shield consumers from rising energy prices.

BRITAIN

Britain has a price cap on the most widely used household energy contracts, but this will rise by 54% from April 1.

To limit the impact the government on Thursday launched a package of measures including a 200 pound ($271.10) discount on electricity bills for all households to be repaid over five years, and a 150 pound rebate on council tax bills for around 80% of households in England.

BULGARIA

Bulgaria has frozen regulated electricity and heating prices until the end of March to shield households.

CZECH REPUBLIC

The Czech parliament’s lower chamber approved a government bill easing conditions for social benefits connected to housing, which should help those hardest-hit by the energy price surge.

EUROPEAN COMMISION

European Union countries are largely responsible for their national energy policies, and EU rules allow them to take emergency measures to protect consumers from higher costs.

The European Commission in October published a “toolbox” of measures EU members can use without breaching competition rules, including subsidies to help poorer households, funding for renovations that reduce energy use or exempting vulnerable households from higher energy taxes.

FRANCE

France has committed to capping an increase on regulated electricity costs at 4%. To help do this the government has ordered utility EDF, which is 80% state owned, to sell more cheap nuclear power to rivals.

GERMANY

The German government said it may scrap this year a surcharge on electricity bills used to support renewable power, to ease the strain of rising energy costs on millions of households.

GREECE

Greece has announced a 2% increase in the minimum wage and will cut property tax rates by a further 13% to help households struggling with rising inflation and higher energy costs, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said.

ITALY

The Italian government has spent more than 8 billion euros since July to curb hikes in retail energy bills..

Last month it announced another 1.7 billion euro package designed to curb surging energy bills and help companies cope with the latest wave of coronavirus infections.

NETHERLANDS

The Netherlands has cut energy taxes for its 8 million households.

NORWAY

Norway subsidised household electricity bills in December, paying 55% of the portion of power bills above a certain rate, which it increased to 80% for January-March.

POLAND

Poland has announced tax cuts on energy, petrol and basic food items, as well as cash handouts for households.

SPAIN

Spain cut several taxes to try to reduce consumer bills, originally planning to maintain the lower rates until the end of the year, but decided in December to keep them lower until May 2022.

It has also put a cap on gas price increases under regulated tariffs but the government eventually rowed back on moves to claw back around 2.6 billion euros in profits from energy companies originally deemed to have been made unfairly during the energy price crisis.

SWEDEN

Sweden will compensate households worst hit by the surge in electricity prices, with the government setting aside 6 billion Swedish crowns ($661 million) for the measures. ($1 = 0.8782 euros) ($1 = 9.0801 Swedish crowns) ($1 = 0.7377 pounds)

(Reporting By Susanna Twidale, Isla Binnie, Stephen Jewkes, Kate Abnett, Vera Eckert, Robert Muller, Benjamin Mallet, Stine Jacobsen, Nora Buli, Angeliki Koutantou, Tsolova Tsvetelia, Anna Koper, Editing by Alexander Smith)

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