The Netherlands has the most expensive gas and electricity in Europe, while Hungary enjoys the lowest energy prices in the bloc, according to new data from Eurostat. Other countries where consumers are really feeling the squeeze include Lithuania and Romania.
Eurostat has released figures on electricity and gas prices, ranking European countries and analysing price changes, as well as the implications of VAT and government subsidies (and, now, their removal).
After a period in the first half 2023 which saw the highest energy prices the bloc has ever recorded, Eurostat has now found that energy prices are in fact decreasing, but consumers are not yet feeling the benefit.
While prices had already been rising for some time, quarter two of 2022 saw a huge hike in the cost of gas and electricity following the start of Russia’s war in Ukraine, as countries sought to reduce their reliance on Russian fuel and find alternative sources.
With a supply crisis then, came a price increase for natural gas, a fuel that dictates prices in the energy market and so has a knock-on effect on electricity. Governments put various measures in place to help out struggling households, including subsidising the market by reducing taxes.
Compared to the same period in 2022, the average share of taxes in electricity bills fell in the first half of 2023 by four per cent (from 23% to 19%). For gas bills, it was an 8% reduction in the proportion of tax (from 27% to 19%).
Prices now dropping but not bills
The first half of 2023 saw the highest energy bills in the bloc, ever. 22 countries in the bloc had higher electricity bills than in the first half of 2023 than the previous year, and 20 had higher gas bills. Average household electricity prices were up from €25.3 per 100 kWh to €28.9 per 100 kWh. Average gas prices also rose, from €8.6 per 100 kWh to €11.9 per 100 kWh in the first half of 2023.
Eurostat notes that while energy prices are in fact beginning to drop now, this is not being translated into cheaper bills for consumers because governments are stripping away support measures. As a result, household bills are now even higher than they were at their supposed height.
The list of shame for electricity?
The largest electricity price increase was reported in the Netherlands, where an extraordinary 953% hike was seen due to tax subsidies not only being discontinued but reversed: taxes on electricity were actually doubled. Lithuania (+88%), Romania (+77%) and Latvia (+74%) also saw huge electricity bill increases.
For the lowest electricity prices in the EU, we can look to Bulgaria (€11.4 per 100 kWh), Hungary (€11.6), and Malta (€12.6). Predictably perhaps, consumers in the Netherlands (€47.5) paid the highest electricity bills, followed by those in Belgium (€43.5), Romania (€42.0), and Germany (€41.3).
And for gas?
Gas meanwhile rocketed in Latvia (+139%), Romania (+134%), Austria (+103%), the Netherlands (again, at +99%) and Ireland (+73%). Estonia, Croatia and Italy saw incremental drops between -0.6% and -0.5%, while the price stayed the same in Lithuania.
The lowest average household gas prices during the first half of 2023 were to be found in Hungary (€3.4 per 100 kWh), Croatia (€4.1) and Slovakia (€5.7) and the highest were in the Netherlands (yet again, at €24.8), Sweden (€21.9), and Denmark (€16.6).