Businesses warn EU energy prices could shut ‘thousands’ of firms

BRUSSELS (AFP): High gas and electricity costs pose an imminent threat to thousands of EU firms and Brussels must act quickly to soften the blow, the Confederation of European Business said Thursday.

“The current state of high gas and electricity prices bears the imminent risk of production losses and shutdowns of thousands of European companies,” the business lobby wrote in an open letter to EU chief Ursula von der Leyen.

“Urgently finding ways at EU level to mitigate the impact of crippling energy prices faced by European business is a matter of survival.”

The EU’s executive and the bloc’s 27 member states are scrambling to come up with ways to lessen the hit from the soaring costs.

Energy ministers from around the bloc are meeting in Brussels on Friday amid a push by some nations to establish a price cap on the cost of gas.

But stark differences in the energy mixes of EU countries is making finding a common solution a major challenge.

“Estimates show that 70 percent of Europe’s fertiliser production has been shut or slowed down, while 50 percent of total aluminium capacity has been lost,” the business confederation said.

“There is a real danger that businesses, and in particular energy-intensive industries, relocate outside of Europe permanently.”

The business group said “policymakers should urgently consider a temporary EU-wide measure to decouple electricity prices from gas prices”.

“This exceptional measure could only be justified by the exceptional situation on the energy market.”