European nations try to fight rising prices
Islam News – Governments across Europe moved this weekend to introduce measures aimed at tackling soaring energy costs and inflation, amid growing concerns that rising prices fueled by the war in Ukraine could stoke social unrest.
Germany, Sweden and the Czech Republic were among the countries that on Sunday announced plans to ease the burdens of an energy crisis that has been triggered largely by Russia’s invasion and Western governments’ decision to punish Moscow in response.
The German government unveiled a $65 billion relief package, while Sweden’s government said it would offer around $23 billion in liquidity guarantees to help energy companies purchase supplies until March. Without that support, Finance Minister Mikael Damberg said on Sunday, some electricity providers risked going into “technical bankruptcy.”
The Czech government announced plans to create a government-run entity to purchase energy supplies for schools, hospitals and other public sector institutions, although it did not say when such purchases would begin. The announcement came just two days after the Czech government survived a no-confidence vote instigated by the opposition over its failure to curb soaring energy prices.
A day earlier, on Saturday, protesters took to the streets in Prague, the Czech capital, to call for stronger government action to curb spiraling energy prices. Tens of thousands of demonstrators, led by far-right and fringe political factions, also criticized the government’s membership in NATO and the European Union.
The protests underlined growing concerns among European leaders that the energy crisis and soaring inflation could trigger broader political instability.
In Germany, Europe’s largest democracy, left-wing and far-right groups have announced plans to begin weekly demonstrations. Unions have also threatened to stage protests, but it was unclear whether those plans would continue after the government unveiled a $65 billion economic relief package on Sunday.
France also is embarking on its biggest energy conservation effort since the 1970s oil crisis. President Emmanuel Macron’s government is calling on its citizens to prepare for a new era of energy “sobriety” in case of a cold winter, but also has insisted the government would help cushion the blow. France has so far spent $26 billion to keep power bills affordable.
Source: The New York Times