Italy’s energy import costs will double to

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Italy’s net energy import costs are set to double this year to nearly 100 billion euros, the economy minister said, warning that Rome cannot spend indefinitely to cushion the impact on the economy.

Italy relies on imports for three-quarters of its energy consumption, making it vulnerable to Europe’s current energy crisis.

Speaking at the annual Ambrosetti business forum on Saturday, Economy Minister Daniele Franco said Italy’s high debt reduced its room for maneuver in the future.

Measures to help businesses and consumers cope with high energy bills will be approved this week, after six aid packages totaling 52 billion euros have been granted so far, Franco said.

“To continue to offset, at least partially, the increase in energy prices through public finances is very expensive and we could never do enough,” he said.

Franco showed that it is essential to address the functioning of the European energy market, where the increase in gas prices against the background of the decrease in Russian exports has led to the increase in energy prices.

“What matters is to return the price of gas and energy to sustainable levels,” said Franco.

Speaking at the same conference on Saturday, the French Minister of Finance, Bruno Le Maire, said that it is necessary to break any links between the price of gas and that of electricity, moving to a “total decoupling” of gas and electricity prices.

Italy’s net energy imports cost 43 billion euros in 2021, in line with previous years except for 2020, which was affected by the Covid-19 epidemic, Franco said.

The increase of about 60 billion euros expected in 2022 amounts to about three percentage points of the gross domestic product and will erase the net surplus in trade with the rest of the world recorded by Italy in recent years, Franco warned.

“We transfer abroad a significant part of our purchasing power,” he added.