Over the past weeks, energy prices have been making considerable news all over Europe. While prices have remained constant in Malta, thanks to the Labour administration and its social conscience, the same cannot be said for other parts of Europe.
Energy prices have in fact skyrocketed over the past months. As of October 2021, gas prices have marked a 400% increase over April 2021. Power prices on the other hand have increased by 200% given that the prices of gas have went up. This is concerning because as winter is approaching, people from all over Europe, especially the North, will have to turn to power to keep themselves warm.
The situation is worrisome. According to estimates, about 1.7 million people die globally every year as a result of extreme cold conditions. This in itself is very alarming, and it is another reason why energy security in Europe is something that must be secured, and imminently so.
During a meeting that I had last week with the European Union Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) in Slovenia, I made sure to voice concerns in this regard in discussions we had about the rising energy prices. After all, we must ensure that the effects of high prices are not borne by the most vulnerable consumers.
Whilst monitoring the current situation, we must continue working towards ensuring a steady supply of energy, whilst reducing our dependability on fossil fuels and focusing on the importance of energy efficiency.
Renewables can help us achieve this crucial goal. We need to scale up the combination power of solar and wind energy along with a stronger uptake of batteries.
Surely, the transition towards cleaner energy will come at a cost. However, we must make sure that the process of making our economy and energy sector cleaner will be socially just and will not hamper the territorial cohesion of the Union. The needs and the specificities of the most peripheral regions, including our islands, must be taken into account.
We need to pay heed to the most vulnerable citizens and we must keep the goal of addressing energy poverty in mind.
After all, the principle of solidarity is one that the European Union was founded upon. When push comes to shove, the Union and any member state government will not be judged by how it treats its richest, but by how it acts in order to leave no one behind.
As a Socialist Member of the European Parliament coming from the periphery, I will continue advocating a socially conscious energy transition.