France to block further natural gas and electricity price rises

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France will move to ease the cost of rising prices for consumers by blocking further natural gas price hikes and by preventing a planned increase in electricity tariffs scheduled in February, Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Thursday.

“For natural gas and electricity, we’ll put in place what I would call a tariffs shield. We’re going to shield ourselves against those tariff hikes,” Castex told TF1 television.

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On Monday, France’s energy regulator said that Engie’s gas prices would increase by 12.6 percent on Oct. 1.

Castex said that rise would go through but that the prices from then on would remain at the same level until world prices go down, something which should occur in March or April.

Energy prices have been rising sharply around the world over the last few months, adding to inflationary pressures and threatening to dent consumer confidence.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said earlier this week he expected rising energy prices to last for a “few more months.”

The French government said two weeks ago it would make a one-off payment of 100 euros ($115.79) to the 5.8 million households that receive energy vouchers to help ease the cost of rising energy bills.

Castex said the government would be willing to consider taking further action if the set of measures currently planned were insufficient to ease the burden for the less well-off.

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