(Bloomberg) -- Italy approved measures to shield companies and consumers from soaring energy prices.
The package is worth 4.4 billion euros ($4.9 billion), Prime Minister Mario Draghi said Friday, and won’t require widening Italy’s budget deficit. The measures will be financed mostly by taxing energy companies that made a windfall from higher power costs.
The fresh spending comes on top of the 16 billion euros that Italy has spent since last July to soften the impact of the steady climb in energy prices, which accelerated after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Overall, 5.2 million families will be covered by the measures, keeping their energy bills at the level seen last summer.
“The government today took significant action to respond to the consequences of the war in Ukraine,” Draghi said at a press conference in Rome.
The government’s measures also include:
- The cost of gas and diesel at the pump will be cut by 25 euro cents per liter until the end of April
- Energy bills can be paid in installments for 2 years
- Companies will receive tax credits for their gas and power consumption
- Specific funds will help fishers, farmers and truckers
Earlier Friday, Draghi called on the European Union to adopt bolder energy measures, including joint purchases to boost negotiating power, joint storage and a cap on the price of gas imports. The Italian premier hosted Spain’s Pedro Sanchez and Portugal’s Antonio Costa in Rome on Friday, along with Greece’s Kyriakos Mitsotakis by videoconference, to hone a common position for a March 24-25 meeting of EU leaders in Brussels.
Draghi Wants EU to Do More on Energy as He Gathers More Allies
“The crisis in Ukraine is a European crisis,” Draghi said during the press conference. It “requires a truly European response.”
(Updates with Draghi comment in fourth, sixth paragraphs)
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