Energy prices: here are the measures announced by Codeco (video)

The federal government, regional and community ministers-presidents as well as various energy ministers met on Wednesday for an advisory committee. At the center of concerns, the energy dossier and the measures to be considered to lower the Belgian bill. Here’s what was decided.

Work on multiple tracks for high prices

Face aux prix “irrationnellement élevés”, “dommageables pour les consommateurs et les entreprises”, and au “marché qui ne fonctionne plus”, le gouvernement fédéral a proposé au Comité de concertation (Codeco) d’envisager plusieurs pistes: guaranteeing the security of ‘supplying ; reduce energy consumption; reviewing price fixing (which is the responsibility of Europe, in particular Belgium advocates a price freeze on wholesale markets and a gas-electricity decoupling); support consumers and businesses; include the financial sector; invest in insulation and renewable energy; and skim super profits.

In addition to the winter plan already decided, in terms of security of supply, the government has in particular asked the operator of Tihange 2 to postpone its definitive closure from February to March 31, 2023, provided that nuclear safety is sufficiently guaranteed.

Reduce consumption

To reduce energy consumption, like the Regions that already on Tuesday indicated that they want to take measures in this direction, the federal authorities will be invited to lead by example. Very concretely, the temperature of public buildings should be lowered to a maximum of 19ºC. A reduction in air conditioning is also planned. Lighting will be cut off from 7pm to 6am. Shops, buildings and monuments are also affected, we should no longer see the Atomium flickering.

Elio Di Rupo said that a proposal to suspend motorway lighting is also being studied.

The idea is also, in coordination with the Regions, to sensitize families, commercial spaces and businesses to energy saving, without further details at this stage. In any case, this is not an obligation.

Finally, the industry will be supported by the federal government, which has asked Creg (Electricity and Gas Regulation Commission) and Fluxys (a group of natural gas transmission infrastructures based in Belgium and active on the European market) to develop an all-European product. wholesale for the reduction of demand.

Support consumers and businesses

In order to support individuals and businesses, the consensus was to extend the measures in place, during the first quarter of 2023, until the end of March: social tariff extension, 6% VAT on gas and electricity and reduction of excise duty on petrol and diesel. For reasons of fairness, a provision will again be made for fuel oil.

Furthermore, a discussion with energy suppliers was announced so that “consumers who request reimbursement plans can obtain them on simple request” and that “the offer of products, including fixed-term contracts, be reformed with a view to lowering prices and super-profits.

Measures will also be taken to help energy-intensive businesses and SMEs, after consultation with the sectors.

The appeal to the banks

As Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke (Vooruit) had already mentioned on Tuesday, banks will also be called to help to give families some respite, as had already happened during the covid. This will include the ability to defer repayment of mortgage loans. The industry has been asked to work on developing banking products that allow for specific loans to be made, so that repayment begins later.

Renewable energy and insulation

The government recalls that it has already lowered VAT until the end of 2023 from 21 to 6% for investments in solar panels, solar boilers and heat pumps for homes less than ten years old. Same story for VAT on demolition and reconstruction. The small announcement here is that the thresholds for renewable energy production should be lowered further.

Tackling super profits

The government is committed to “skim” the super-profits of companies in the energy sector. “A working group made up of experts from Creg, FPS Economy and FPS Finances, among others, will examine where these excess profits are, if they can be captured in Belgium and what fiscal and legal tools can be used for this purpose, while ensuring a level playing field in the energy sector. “We expect your proposal within a few weeks. The idea, however, is that a solidarity fund collects the fruit of this contribution and finances federal energy interventions (how the nuclear tax should contribute).

The proceeds from this tax would be used to help the middle class.

Incidentally, the government recalls its call for a “European framework” to ensure legal certainty for this excess profit taxation.

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