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Support in CEE during energy crisis mostly short-term oriented, ACER says

As policymakers consider the next steps ahead of the upcoming heating season, the EU Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) released an inventory of emergency support measures adopted during the energy crisis in 2022.

The inventory, released in March 2023, provided an in-depth review of over 400 policy measures in the EU and Norway, presented in the form of an interactive dashboard.

During the energy crisis, every EU Member State adopted energy support measures; one-third of the measures were aimed at ensuring the security of supply with two-thirds focused on tackling affordability for end-consumers, ACER said. Almost 50 per cent of the measures took the form of direct support to final consumers, while the other half focused on increasing energy efficiency and renewable generation uptake.

Some measures aimed at replacing the use of gas for heating or for producing electricity could hamper the decarbonisation goals, ACER said. Therefore, their use should be limited to areas where alternatives to safeguarding the security of supply are not readily available, ACER recommended.

Looking into the affordability measures more closely, the EU agency revealed that whilst 40 per cent of the measures were aimed at tackling energy affordability target households, less than one-fourth of them targeted vulnerable consumers.

According to the inventory, 60 per cent of the measures aimed at providing direct support to consumers came in the form of income support such as one-off cash payments, while the rest comprised discounts on energy bills, for example, price support.

Most measures with a ‘short-term impact horizon’

According to ACER’s analysis, the majority (77 per cent) of the overall 439 emergency measures were short-term oriented, with the remaining 23 per cent focused on the long-term ‘impact horizon.’ A similar trend was seen in countries across Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) with most measures aimed at achieving a short-term impact. In Poland, Czechia, Bulgaria and Slovenia, at least 90 per cent of the measures were set within a short-term perspective.

Looking into specific energy sectors, a majority (42 per cent) of Europe’s support measures mostly targeted the electricity sector with a combination of both the electricity and gas sectors taking second place (30 per cent). The gas sector alone accounted for 20 per cent of the measures.

The targeted sectors in CEE were broadly similar to the continental average, with measures in countries like Poland and Bulgaria mostly focused on the electricity and gas sectors. In Slovakia, a more noticeable majority of measures targeted the electricity sector (75 per cent), similar to Slovenia (61 per cent) and Greece (53 per cent).

ACER will continue its assessment of the measures, with a more extensive report expected to be published in July.

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