Slovak government clashes with industry over energy prices

The energy price spike has caused headaches across Europe. [Shutterstock/vchal]

Slovak industry groups have demanded compensation for high energy prices, particularly from the environmental fund established by the environment ministry to support sustainable development. However, the environment ministry responded by saying the fund “is not an ATM”, EURACTIV Slovakia reported.

With the environmental fund, the government can collect money from auctions of emission allowances. Part of this money already goes to industry, which is expected to use these resources for decarbonisation efforts.

According to the ministry, the fund unlocked €4 million for ten companies in 2020.

However, the association of industry and transport is now demanding that these funds be immediately raised.

“If the state does not urgently raise the amount of financial compensation, producers who are among the largest consumers of electricity in the state risk a drop in production and jobs,” said the association’s secretary-general, Andrej Lasz.

But the environment ministry has pointed out that the goal of the environmental fund is to support environmental protection measures. “Subsidies for businesses from the environmental fund are possible to a certain extent. However, it is not an ATM. The level of funding for companies to correct their environmental wrongdoing is set by a directive of the European Commission,” the ministry added.

Lucia Szabová from the non-governmental Climate Coalition said emission allowances aim to mitigate the effects of climate change, not be an exchange of money between the state and industry.

“In the spirit of the ‘polluter pays’ principle, it is necessary to assess the profits of the major polluter and find out which of them really needs help in the current situation,” she added.

The energy price spike has caused headaches across Europe. The Commission warned that an unstable energy market could derail Europe’s economic recovery and harm businesses and poor households.

Europe’s energy crisis has drawn comments from the Kremlin, with Russian President Vladimir Putin saying “hysteria” has prevailed in the EU.

“You see what is happening in Europe; there is hysteria and some confusion in the markets. Why? Because no one is taking the issue seriously, someone is speculating on the problems of climate change, someone is underestimating something, someone is starting to reduce investment in the extractive industries”, he said at a meeting with his cabinet.

Referring to Europe’s green transition, he added: “We see where some unbalanced decisions, unbalanced growth and abrupt reshuffles are leading.”

For its part, the EU insists that the green transition is the only way to avoid similar crises in the long run.

At a meeting of eurozone finance ministers on 4 October in Luxembourg, Spain and France called for an EU-wide response to protect Europe’s poorest citizens, the competitiveness of its businesses, and its 2050 plan to cut greenhouse emissions.

The issue will be discussed further at a summit on 21-22 October.

(Michal Hudec | EURACTIV.sk)

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