HomeBBC NEWSBusinessWhich countries are doing the most to tackle energy bills?

    Which countries are doing the most to tackle energy bills?


    Energy bills for European households have been rising in recent months. The price increases have been driven by rising energy demand and concerns about oil supply.

    Individual countries and the European Union (EU) have announced support – worth billions of pounds – to help people struggling to meet energy costs.

    Here’s what they’re doing.

    The EU

    In 2021, the EU imports 40 percent of its gas from Russia – so many of its member states are at risk of high energy prices.

    European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has proposed a cap on the revenues of power companies that generate electricity from wind, solar and nuclear power.

    She said they benefit from “excess revenues” and estimated the cap would raise 140 billion euros (£121 billion) to help protect consumers from high bills.

    She also plans to impose a windfall profits tax on the profits of oil, gas and coal companies.

    These plans would go ahead if EU member states approve them, but it is unclear how quickly this could be done.

    The EU also wants to target energy demand, calling for a reduction in peak hour electricity use of at least 5 percent. It has also agreed to reduce gas consumption by 15 percent by March 2023. This is voluntary – for now – and member states will have to decide how to do this.


    German households pay more for electricity than any other country in the European Union, and gas bills will rise by an average of 62 percent for 4.2 million German households by 2022, Reuters reported.

    Germany is the largest net importer of fossil fuels from Russia.

    In September, the German government announced a €65 billion (£56.2 billion) package of measures, including one-off payments to the most vulnerable and tax breaks for energy-intensive companies.

    The government has already provided subsidies for low-income households, cuts in petrol and diesel taxes, a one-off payment of €300 (£253), additional child support payments and public transport discounts.

    It has also tried to reduce energy demand by

    Dimming street lights
    turning off fountains
    Lowering the temperature of public swimming pools

    Image caption,Turning off fountains is one way Germany is trying to reduce its energy demand.


    In January, the French government forced state-owned energy supplier Electricité de France (EDF) to limit price increases to 4% a year at a cost of €8.4 billion (£7 billion).

    Last year, France had already announced a one-time payment of 100 euros (£84) to the 5.8 million households receiving energy vouchers. Since then, it has also reduced taxes on electricity.

    France is expected to spend 45 billion euros (£38 billion) to support people through the cost-of-living crisis, according to Brussels-based think tank Bruegel.

    Image caption,In March dozens of French taxi drivers protest against a hike in fuel prices.


    Italy has announced a €14 billion (£12 billion) plan to allow households to keep their fuel bills at around 2021 levels. It also wants to invest more in renewable energy.

    These include a one-off payment of €200 (£169) for those earning €35,000 (£29,600) a year or less and a 20% tax credit for all energy-intensive companies with 30% price rises.

    To help cover this cost, taxes on energy companies are being raised.

    Overall, Italy is expected to spend around €49.5 billion (£42 billion).


    The government has cut VAT on energy bills and taxes on gasoline and diesel.

    Low-income households will receive €1,300 (£1,141) in energy subsidies this year to help pay their energy bills.

    The 2023 budget, to be announced on September 20, is expected to include another €1,300 for poor households, as well as.

    A higher minimum wage
    Lower income taxes
    Higher benefits and allowances (such as child benefits, student grants and tax credits)
    The Netherlands is expected to spend €16 billion on these measures.


    It has reduced VAT on energy bills and reduced electricity bills.

    To do this, it has imposed a windfall profits tax on energy companies, aimed at raising €3 billion (£2.5 billion).

    Spain and Portugal have introduced a gas price cap – which has the backing of the European Commission.

    The cap, which will last a year, aims to halve the cost of gas for 40% of customers in both countries.

    There is also a one-off payment of €200 for Spaniards who earn less than €14,000 a year and are not yet receiving benefits.

    The Spanish measure is expected to cost around €27 billion (£23 billion).


    In Norway, the government has set a maximum price that households should pay for their energy – above which the government will pay 80% of the cost.

    This measure and other support will cost about 40.6 billion Norwegian kroner (£3.6 billion).


    As part of the “anti-inflation shield,” the Polish government has announced a plan to reduce VAT on food, gas and fertilizers to 0%.

    VAT on gasoline, diesel and energy bills has already been cut.

    In July, as prices climbed to record highs, the Polish government approved a subsidy of 630 euros (£557) for households that use coal for heating.

    It also sent direct remittances to 7 million households, some of which are eligible for payments of up to €306 (£258) a year.

    Poland is expected to spend €8 billion (£6 billion) on the overall support measures.


    On September 8, the government announced that it will limit the rise in energy bills for all households for two years.

    By 2024, the typical household energy bill will be capped at £2,500 a year.

    The plan could cost up to £150 billion.

    The previous government introduced a £400 discount on energy bills for each household. Households receiving means-tested benefits will also receive a one-off £650, while those on pensions will receive an additional £300 for winter fuel. There will also be a one-off payment of £150 for disability living expenses.

    These payments will be partly funded by a 25 percent windfall tax on oil and gas company profits, which is expected to raise £5 billion.

    Are these plans sustainable?

    Some people wonder how long the government can protect consumers. If hyperinflation continues into 2023 or beyond, the government may have trouble protecting households.

    “Such high subsidies are unsustainable from a public finance perspective and harmful from a geopolitical and energy security perspective – not to mention the environment,” said Simone Tagliapietra, a senior researcher at Bruegel Tagliapietra, who collected data on government measures to protect consumers, said.

    Others worry about what will happen if Europe can’t find alternatives to Russian oil and gas.

    “The most difficult moment should be the coming fall and winter,” said Ilaria Conti, head of natural gas at the Florence School of Regulation.

    Aggregate data for the U.K. has been updated to take into account the IFS analysis

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