EU should use pandemic recovery fund to tackle high energy prices, says Greek PM – POLITICO

DELPHI, Greece – The EU must act quickly to tackle soaring energy prices at European level, or member states must act unilaterally, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.

Speaking at the Delphi Forum in Athens, Mitsotakis, along with Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Secretary-General Mathias Cormann, said the bloc would provide $230bn to help EU economies deal with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic support and mitigate the crisis in the short term.

“I think we need to be creative and, with the help of the Commission, think about how we can use these loans that Member States have not expressed an interest in using, to reuse them to help us deal with high energy prices, but also the Help member states to deal with the migration crisis,” he said in a chat moderated by Florian Eder from POLITICO.

“We already did this with the RRF in 2020 and it was a great success. I don’t think the Council is ready to increase the funds available at the supranational level, but let’s be creative in repurposing existing funds to help countries deal with this problem in the short term,” he added.

He warned that a decision would have to be made at the next extraordinary EU summit at the end of May. “If for whatever reason this doesn’t happen, it’s up to member states to spend more money to support businesses and households,” Mitsotakis said.

“We will end up doing that in Greece. There will be tax implications but I hope we can do this at European level.”

Russia’s war in Ukraine has led to unprecedented price hikes and supply chain problems, with citizens struggling to cope with the rise in the cost of living. There are concerns across Europe that this will lead to anti-government protests; The issue is already dominating the political agenda in France, where the first round of presidential elections will take place on Sunday.

“If we don’t do that, we will allow the forces of populism to reemerge stronger in Europe,” said the Greek prime minister. “It will be a terrible mistake if we lose popular support for economic reasons.”

Mitsotakis also said the European Council should examine proposals put forward by Greece, including a cap on wholesale gas prices and the decoupling of gas and electricity prices, as now “we have a non-functioning gas market”.

Regarding the sanctions imposed by the EU on Russia, Mitsotakis said: “Sanctions cause pain and we must protect our citizens, especially the most vulnerable. We cannot replace Russian gas overnight. We do not support sanctions in the event of Russian gas supply disruptions. We don’t want a solution that would put us in a weaker position than Russia.” EU should use pandemic recovery fund to tackle high energy prices, says Greek PM - POLITICO

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