Rome: Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi on Thursday announced measures worth three billion euros to cut gas and electricity bills this winter as electricity prices soar across the Europe.

He told the Confindustria employers’ association that the measures, worth $ 3.5 billion, would particularly target the poorest and most vulnerable.

“In the absence of government intervention, in the next quarter the price of electricity could increase by around 40% and that of gas by 30%,” Draghi said.

“For this reason, we have decided to eliminate for the last quarter of the year the system costs for gas for everyone, and for electricity for families and small businesses.”

System costs are added to energy bills to cover measures such as incentives for renewable energy sources.

Ministers gave the green light to the move at a cabinet meeting later Thursday.

Draghi said the government would also increase energy bonuses for less well-off groups, in a program worth more than three billion euros, which follows pledged 1.2 billion euros. in June.

The former head of the European Central Bank said many of the reasons for the increase in energy prices were temporary, but called for long-term action, including at European level, to resolve the problem, in particular by diversifying supplies.

Italy is very dependent on imports and consumes a large amount of gas. About 40 percent of its primary energy consumption is gas, compared to around 15 percent in France, according to official statistics from both countries.

Consumer association Unione Nazionale Consumatori said cutting costs in the system would not be enough to help families in difficulty, and the government should also remove excise taxes.

Europe faces soaring electricity prices as its economy recovers from the coronavirus pandemic and winter approaches as natural gas reserves are at worrying levels.

A profound transformation of the EU towards a low carbon future, phasing out fossil fuels, increases pressure on the EU market and on households.

The European Commission said on Wednesday it was ready to validate “temporary, short-term measures” to tackle the effects of a global energy crisis.

ar / ide / tgb / yad