EU country warns citizens of ten ‘difficult winters’ ahead
Belgium is facing up to ten “difficult winters” but is about to leap “20 years forward” by getting rid of its dependency on fossil fuels, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said on Sunday. He was commenting on the looming energy crisis, exacerbated by sanctions on Moscow over the Ukraine conflict and a decrease in Russian natural gas supplies.
Speaking to VRT TV, De Croo claimed that the conflict in Ukraine had affected the European economy much more than the Covid pandemic “could ever have had.” However, he said that the hardships are worth it, because “this is about the stability and security of the European continent.”
“When we get it under control, it will be five difficult years, it will be ten difficult years with bad policy, but I also said that we as a country and European continent can handle this if we get all noses in the same direction,” De Croo pointed out.
He argued that the current situation has a bright side.
“We can also jump 20 years forward, in terms of detaching from fossil fuels and breaking away from countries that we don’t like to trade with…,” the prime minister noted.
Last week, the Belgian government published a plan to combat soaring energy prices. It set out measures to decrease energy consumption, such as lowering the temperature in government buildings to 19 degrees, limiting use of air conditioning to a maximum of 27 degrees and ordering to switch off lighting in federal properties and monuments between 7pm and 6am. According to the paper, the country “should be able to get through the winter without any major problems” and might even be able to help its neighbors.
In August, inflation in Belgium jumped to 9.94%, just short of the 1976 record of 9.96%, according to the Statbel statistics agency.
Meanwhile, according to a study by consultant group Verisk Maplecroft, the risk of civil unrest is growing especially quickly across the European continent, in a large part due to fallout from the Ukraine conflict.