THE Scottish Government last week announced a £4 million scheme to help people with soaring energy bills while regulation of the energy sector is reserved to Westminster.

With households likely to be landed with a £2000 per year energy bill after the price cap rises again in April, how are neighbouring European countries tackling the crisis and what can we learn from their approach?

There has been a staggering fourfold surge in energy market prices in Europe, with households set to pay an average 54% more for their energy than in 2020.

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It comes amid rising inflation, rising food costs and in the UK higher National Insurance contributions which are set to come into effect in April. Households are facing a cost of living crisis as wages remain low in comparison. 

Many European governments have moved quickly to protect consumers from rising prices, while the UK Government has failed to act or even consider a windfall tax on oil and gas firms who returned record profits last year.


With the French presidential election fast approaching in April, Emmanuel Macron swiftly brought in measures to stem rising costs. State energy giant EDF will charge electricity well below the market rate and is expected to take an €8.4bn (£7bn) financial hit because of the plans.

EDF has also been ordered to sell more nuclear power to rivals below the current market price, as it operates 56 nuclear reactors which generate 70% of the country’s electricity.

The French government has also cut electricity taxes in a bid to slow the increase to bills and 5.8m low-income households were given a €100 chèque énergie in January to help with bills.

The National:

Gas prices are soaring in the UK and across Europe


The German government’s approach to the crisis is to reduce a green surcharge on bills which support renewable energy projects from 6.5 cents per kilowatt-hour to 3.7 cents.

The outstanding levies will be covered by €3.3bn in carbon taxes collected by the Treasury. There is also a €130m pot for lower income households to help with the bills, ranging from €135 for a single person home, €175 for a two person household and €35 per additional person.

As Germany had the highest energy prices in Europe before the current crisis, many have said they do not go far enough, with some calling for a €500 subsidy per household.

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Last September, Spain agreed to remove taxes from home energy bills until 2022, replacing this with a windfall tax on utility providers who were set to make profits from the soaring market prices.

This is expected to raise €2bn, and the policy was seized upon by Labour who called for a similar tax on oil and gas producers in the North Sea.


In the Republic of Ireland, each household will be given €200 (£169) credit to offset heating costs, and public transport costs will be reduced by 20% until 2022.

Those already claiming the fuel allowance will be given an extra €125 (£105). The €300m (£253m) plan is part of a €1.5bn package being spent on mitigating the cost of living and problems caused by inflation.

The National:

Many EU countries have given householders subsidies for electricity bills


Households in Italy pay one of the highest rates for energy bills in Europe and are set to see some of the steepest rises in costs, forcing the government to cut tax on gas for all consumers and introduce extra grants for low-income families.

Like Germany, Italy will also reduce charges on subsidies that support renewable energies. The Italian government has spent more than €8bn since July to keep bills down.


Already existing issues including poor insulation, high levels of poverty and cold winters make it difficult for Bulgarians to heat their homes, something which has been exacerbated by the crisis.

The government has therefore frozen regulated heating and electricity prices until the end of March, but according to public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television, only 10% of the public have a positive view of the policy.

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The Netherlands

In a bid to save households around €400 a year, the Dutch cabinet agreed to cut energy taxes in October last year.

A further €150m is being set aside to boost home insulation, and €500m will be used to compensate smaller firms with lower energy taxes. The €3.2bn package came in on January 1 and will run for a year.


A six million kronor (£473m) pot was set aside by the Swedish government to soften the impact of soaring bills, and the nation announced plans for winter-bill subsidies of up to 6000 kronor for 1.8m households between December last year and the end of February.


The Norwegian government’s package of measures to help households totals more than eight billion kronor (£664m). In January, Norway committed to covering 80% of electricity costs between January and March when the rate for electricity is above 70 Norwegian øre (6p) per kilowatt-hour.