On average every fourth household in the European Union faces difficulties with heating and unpaid utility bills, while Hungary is ranked second in the EU in the former category and third in the latter thanks to the government’s scheme capping household energy prices, according to a survey published by the Századvég Foundation on Friday.
Soaring energy prices resulting from the growing tension in trade between Russia and Europe have posed serious challenges in EU countries, Századvég said, citing data from its Europe-wide survey conducted from Oct. 13 to Dec. 7 as well as Eurostat figures. Countries have implemented various measures to prevent a price explosion in retail tariffs but their effectiveness varies greatly, it added.
According to Századvég, Hungary’s price-cap scheme, involving centrally regulated tariffs, offers the greatest protection to consumers. The company’s survey dubbed Europe Project showed that 26 percent of Europeans, or over 100 million people, were unable to properly heat their homes.
The most difficult situation was reported in Greece where 56 percent of respondents said they were unable to heat properly their homes, followed by Portugal and France, with 34 percent in both countries stating the same, Szazadveg said. The least affected countries were Finland (10 percent), Hungary with 14 percent and Austria and Denmark, both 14 percent, it added.
Every fourth respondent in the European survey said that at least once in the past year they had been unable to pay their bills in time due to financial problems.
The situation was the most serious in Greece, with 51 percent of the public affected, followed by Cyprus (37 percent), and Ireland and Bulgaria (35 percent in both countries), Szazadveg said. The lowest figures were 14 percent reported in Austria, 16 percent in the Czech Republic and 18 percent in Hungary, it added.