The leaders of Greece, Italy, Spain, and Portugal agreed on Friday to push the European Union to reform the energy market and reduce prices.
In statements after remotely participating in a quadrilateral summit held in Rome, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the meeting was a significant step toward “formulating a European response to the dramatic increase in energy prices”.
“It is our common conviction that facing such a challenge demands a common European response. Actions, in other words, to protect our societies, since no country can cope with this crisis alone,” he said.
He noted that the “outrageous price hikes in the energy sector” constituted a “foremost issue for our economies and the social cohesion of our peoples.”
Mitsotakis participated in the meeting via teleconference as he is currently self-isolating due to a recent diagnosis with Covid-19.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa participated in person, while the meeting was hosted by Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.
Solutions to the energy crisis cannot be just national
“We agree that the solutions cannot be only national,” Mitsotakis said, adding: “In the initial phase, we propose that there should be harmonized European policies of intervention against speculators, so as to restore balance in electricity and natural gas prices. When the markets are at the mercy of speculators, then this demands a European intervention.”
Immediate decisions must be taken at the next European Council, the Greek prime minister noted, and Europe must form a united front, as this situation threatened to ‘torpedo’ the European idea and a crisis that could reawaken the “nightmare of populism”.
“We in Greece paid a heavy price in the previous decade. We must give emphasis to the interconnections, invest in our interconnections with the African continent. We agreed on the text that we will approve.
“The events in Ukraine underline the need for Europe’s strategic autonomy, to increase our military spending and how this will be dealt with in the European framework, as it is clear that this will burden our budgets,” he added.
Greece announces aid package to cope with high energy prices
On Wednesday Mitsotakis announced an economic aid package for Greeks as people are struggling to keep up with rapidly increasing energy costs.
The total package amounts to 1.1 billion euros to be distributed to 3.2 million Greek families in need. Amounts awarded to each family could reach up to 30,000 euros each year.
He noted that despite the fact the state has been working to counter high prices in Greece since the Fall, the war in Ukraine has derailed plans, and Greeks can see the result in the “prices of power, gas, and other products.”
He stressed, however, that the issue is an “international” one, and that Greece is not the only country facing this crisis.