“The Government is ready to defend the reduction in public utility charges and the people of Hungary will also be asked about the issue during the upcoming national consultation”, the Ministry of National Development’s Minister of State for Energy, András Aradszki stressed.

“Last November’s ‘Clean Energy for All Europeans’ programme indicates that Brussels wants to interfere in an increasing numbers of issues, one such issue being the methodology applied to calculate the price of energy”, the Minister of State said. “The package would mean that it will not be possible to provide electricity to consumers at regulated prices, which to all intents and purposes means the banning of Hungary’s state-subsidised reduction of public utility charges and the cancelling out of the results achieved so far”, he declared.

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“It is important that determining the price of electricity should remain within a national sphere of competence”, Mr. Aradszki highlighted. The Minister of State said that sensible replies that support the Governments’ standpoint would be received during the course of the national consultation, in view of that fact that the issue directly effects the everyday lives of the Hungarian people. He also stated that the Brussels plan would remove many spheres of competence from the countries of the European Union in addition to preventing the regulation of energy prices.

“Member States would not be able to decide on prices, on investment projects designed to assure the security of supply, or on forms of regulation aimed at meeting energy requirements”, he said in summary, adding that the issue also raises legal questions.

“Between 2010 and 2015 the price of electricity also increased in Member States that have no regulated prices and where the market determined the price of electricity. If Brussels succeeds in implementing its plans then families will once again be exposed to the interests of multinational companies, as was the case prior to 2010”, he said.

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Mr. Aradszki pointed out that prior to 2010 people in Hungary paid some of the highest prices for energy in Europe and families spent a significant part of their income on utility charges.

“Since the introduction of the state-regulated reduction of public utility charges in 1 January 2013, the price of gas, electricity and district heating has been 25 percent cheaper, saving families an average of 170 thousand forints-a-year and leaving a total of 821 billion forints (EUR 2.6bn) in people’s pockets”, he pointed out.

“Hungarian consumers currently pay below the European average and have access to natural gas and electricity at some of the lowest prices on the continent. Willingness to pay has increased significantly, the number of consumers who owe money has decreased and outstanding debt has fallen by tens of billions of forints. These are the results that would be endangered if the Government were to bow to Brussels’ plans”, Mr. Aradszki explained.

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The Minister of State pointed out that the value of the reduction in public utility charges made itself apparent not only in the fact that consumers pay less for energy, but they also keep inflation low, which increases the value of wages and pensions. “This is also one of the reasons why the Government regard the reduction of public utility charges as a national issue”, he stressed.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)