Outgoing Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and his likely successor have criticised Germany’s 200-billion-euro move to shield its citizens from rising energy prices, saying Europe must act together. “Faced with the common threats of our times, we cannot divide ourselves according to the amount of room in our national budgets,” he said in a press statement late Thursday. It came after Germany announced a 200-billion-euro ($194-billion) shield to protect households and businesses from skyrocketing power costs, saying it was in an “energy war over prosperity and freedom” with Russia.
“The energy crisis requires a response from Europe to reduce costs for families and businesses, to limit exceptional gains made by producers and importers, to avoid dangerous and unjustified distortions of the internal market and to keep Europe united once against in the face of an emergency,” Draghi said. At a meeting of EU energy ministers in Brussels on Friday, Italy’s Roberto Cingolani repeated Rome’s support for an EU-wide cap on the price of gas, something Draghi has been long been calling for.
“Everyone has recognised that there is a priority at the moment, which is to bring down the cost of gas. But there is also a second priority, to avoid in doing so creating a shortage of gas,” Cingolani said. Draghi is only in office for another few weeks, likely to be replaced by Giorgia Meloni, whose far-right Brothers of Italy party won elections last Sunday.
Meloni has backed the idea of a European price cap and ahead of Friday’s meeting, also appeared to criticise Germany in a statement calling for “an immediate European response” to the energy crisis. “No member state can offer effective and long-term solutions on its own in the absence of a common strategy, not even those that appear less financially vulnerable,” she said.