‘We will disobey European rules!’ Fury at France gas crisis as prices to ‘explode’ by 12%

Martin Lewis on how to protect yourself from the energy crisis

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France’s energy regulator confirmed on Monday that the major utility firm Engie would increase gas prices by 12.6 percent from October 1. The price hike will affect around three million customers as well as consumers with other supplies whose energy bills are set by the regulator.

The Energy Regulatory Commission has blamed the increase on rising wholesale gas prices, the coronavirus pandemic and issues with supplies from Norway and Russia.

A number of leading politicians and unions have condemned the soaring cost of energy.

The timing could also threaten Emmanuel Macron’s bid for a second term in office, with the presidential elections in France taking place in just seven months’ time.

French MEP Manon Aubry has vowed to block the surging energy bills.

The La France Insoumise parliamentarian tweeted: “Faced with exploding gas and electricity prices, we propose to block the price of basic necessities: heating and eating should not become a luxury!

“And if necessary, we will disobey European rules in order to be able to respond to the social emergency!”

She added: “The 12.6% increase in the price of gas will affect many households.

“It’s time to block the price of basic products and put an end to the energy market which is causing prices to explode!”

Jean-Luc Antoine Pierre Mélenchon, member of the National Assembley, added: “Reminder: we are calling for a freeze on the prices of basic necessities.

“We could also distribute dividends from Engie shareholders to consumers.”

French consumer organisation UFC-Que Choisir has called for a temporary reduction in VAT.

The group has also launched a petition in the wake of the announcement and it has already attracted more than 30,000 signatures.

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UFC-Que Choisir president Alain Bazot said: “This is a historic rise in prices which is linked to the international context.

“There could at least be a temporary reduction in VAT to compensate people for this considerable increase.”

The French government has attempted to ease the financial burden and earlier this month said a one-off €100 (£86) payment would be made to 5.8 million households that receive energy vouchers.

Speaking today, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire added: “We are working on additional measures.”

The Energy Regulatory Commission said: “This is the result of the historic rise in gas prices on the world market which is reflected in the supply costs of the gas supplier Engie.”

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.
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