The government multiplies the statements to try to reassure the French in the face of energy prices which continue to reach peaks. On Wednesday, Bruno Le Maire once again spoke on this subject. And according to the Minister of Economy, ‘sn the price shield, the increase in gas and electricity prices would be at least 100% next year! That is an increase of 120 euros on average per month and per household”, he said in an interview with Les Echos. Indeed, on August 26, electricity prices reached 1,000 euros per megawatt hour against 85 euros last year. And gas is not to be outdone, grazing, in Europe in recent weeks, historical records at 345 euros per MWh in session.
Launched in October 2021 and extended several times, the tariff shield makes it possible to contain the rise in energy prices on the regulated tariff paid by households, thus protecting their purchasing power. If the regulated gas tariff was raised last fall, but has since been frozen, that of electricity increased by 4% in February.
“A contained and reasonable increase »
The French must nevertheless expect a higher bill next winter, warns Bruno Le Maire who nevertheless assures: ” There will be an increase in energy prices at the start of 2023, but it will be contained and reasonable compared to this worst-case scenario”. This is the watchword repeated almost daily by the executive in recent days: the rise in gas and electricity prices for consumers will be “contained” in 2023, had already assured the Minister of the Economy at the end of August. “The 4% cap (of the regulated tariff, editor’s note) will be maintained until the end of 2022, there will be no catch-up on this cap in 2023, and the increases mentioned by the President of the Republic and the First minister will be contained increases”he explained.
Last Saturday, Elisabeth Borne promised that the executive would not ” not let energy prices explode” for households. Once the tariff shield is completed at the end of 2022, “we will keep devices to cushion energy prices”while prices exploded on the wholesale markets, “ and we will take specific measures to support the most vulnerable”said the Prime Minister in an interview with Parisian/Today in France. The executive intends, in fact, “move from general mechanisms to more targeted mechanisms”, explained the head of government, like the energy check of 100 euros distributed last year to 5.8 million households, or the fuel allowance of 100 to 300 euros granted to low-income workers. Because, in the same way that energy prices are exploding, the bill for the price shield continues to increase: ” More than 20 billion euros “, already underlined Bruno Le Maire, last March – when the device was only to last until spring
Towards artificial decoupling between gas and electricity prices
While the cause of this spike in energy prices can largely be explained by the outbreak of war in Ukraine last February, for France the interconnected energy market between the 27 Member States of the European Union can also be held responsible. Indeed, the government considers that its operation would create an artificial coupling between the prices of gas, which have exploded all over the world for more than a year, and those of electricity, including in countries where the current comes less from hydrocarbons than nuclear or hydraulics.
However, last Monday, the European Commission itself questioned this system, admitting that “Rising prices […] clearly shows the limits of [son] current operation “, according to the words of its president, Ursula Von Der Leyen. Even the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz (SPD), whose country depends largely on gas to produce electricity, has pleaded in recent days for a substantial modification of the system, which “cannot be described as functional if it leads to such high prices”. According to the leader, “We now need to act quickly, in a coordinated way” at European Union level, avoid “isolated actions” on the part of the Member States and to agree ” rapidly “ on a reform of the European electricity market. Belgian Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten also called for reform “a failed market”which is not “more tenable for many consumers and families”. In an attempt to remedy this, energy ministers will meet on 9 September in Prague to reflect on “emergency response” and an “structural reform of the electricity market”said Ursula Von Der Leyen.