Inflation grips Europe

De Croo has therefore started talks with Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, to study possibilities of reducing energy prices…reports Asian Lite News

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo has urged the EU to take responsibility to manage the skyrocketing energy prices that had reached an unsustainable level in recent weeks.

“It is only at (the) European level that we will succeed in reducing prices. Only Europe can achieve this,” he said on Wednesday.

The federal government and the representatives of Belgium’s federated entities met in Brussels on Tuesday in a Consultation Committee (CODECO) and managed to come up with additional measures to deal with soaring energy prices at national level, while at the same time calling on the EU to assume its responsibilities.

De Croo has therefore started talks with Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, to study possibilities of reducing energy prices, Xinhua news agency reported.

“Since March, our country has been pleading for measures to be taken on gas prices, and in particular to achieve a freeze on gas prices,” he said, adding that von der Leyen announced at the beginning of the week that an emergency mechanism would be put in place to lower energy prices.

In view of the rising energy prices, CODECO has decided to extend all the support measures already in force until March 31, 2023. These include a 6 per cent VAT reduction on gas and electricity, reduction of excise duties on fuel, and extension of social tariffs and fuel vouchers to target groups.

Among other measures announced, the public authorities will lower heating. They will reduce the use of air conditioning and turn off the lights in every building.

The Belgian Prime Minister also called for the responsibility of every citizen to reduce their energy consumption.

In addition, negotiations, which aims to obtain from banks deferral of the mortgage payment, are also underway with the financial sector to help some people with higher energy bills. Negotiations with the financial sector in financing energy-saving measures are also underway.

Inflation in Italy surges to new high

Prices in Italy were 8.4 per cent higher in August than they were a year earlier, a level that had not been recorded since December 1985, the country’s National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT) reported.

Preliminary data from ISTAT on Wednesday showed prices in August were 0.8 per cent higher than in July, Xinhua news agency reported.

Energy-related goods were the main factor behind the jump, ISTAT said, with a year-on-year increase of 44.9 per cent, higher than the 42.9-per cent rise in July compared to a year earlier.

Over the three months starting in June, Italy’s annualised inflation rate has been 8 per cent, 7.9 per cent, and 8.4 per cent, respectively — the three highest monthly totals on record since the formal creation of the euro currency in 1999.

Despite the increase in energy prices, the rate of increase for transportation services slowed slightly in August, rising by 8.4 per cent compared to a year earlier, down from the 8.9-per cent annualised increase registered in July.

Prices for consumer goods rose to 11.8 per cent, while costs for services climbed 3.7 per cent, ISTAT added.

Meanwhile, the core inflation rate, which excludes prices for energy and volatile consumer goods like food, was 4.4 per cent, the highest rate since May 1996.

Over the first eight months of the year, the cumulative inflation rate is 7 per cent compared to the same period in 2021.

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