Bakers go bust while EU ministers mull gas-price cap

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By Hans von der Brelie  & Thomas Hill
Baker Jack Von Roon ruined by cost of running his ovens
Baker Jack Von Roon ruined by cost of running his ovens   -  Copyright  Hans von der Brelie

European energy ministers are at loggerheads over plans for a gas-price cap to help consumers. They hope to thrash out a solution at a meeting next week.

But for some businesses, any new measures on gas and electricity bills will be too little, too late.

In the Dutch town of Delft, Jack Van Roon has had to take the heartbreaking decision to close his bakery business.

“The problem is gas prices are going sky high,” Jack Van Roon told Euronews. “At a certain point, you can’t keep up any more. I am paying €1400 a month now and soon that could be €12,000 or €13,000. That’s the expectation in November and it’s impossible to go on like that.”

The European Commission proposes a temporary price cap and argues that if EU countries negotiate collectively with suppliers they can drive down the price.

European-wide gas-price cap far from done deal

But a European-wide gas-price cap is far from a done deal. France, Italy, Romania, and a dozen other EU countries, are in favour. Mr Van Loon’s Dutch government and Germany are against the idea, arguing natural gas suppliers will simply find other buyers.

If energy ministers cannot agree on a plan next week, the matter will be discussed by heads of state in mid-December.

Since the start of the energy crisis in September 2021, almost €600bn has been allocated across EU countries to shield consumers and businesses from rising energy costs.

But for Jack Van Roon in Delft, and many others in high-energy sectors, the latest debates are no more than hot air. Time has run out for him and cold economics mean the former baker must find a new line of work and his loyal customers must look elsewhere for their daily bread.

Watch Euronews Witness report on the struggling bakers in Romania, Italy and the Netherlands this Thursday at 21:45 CET and all weekend.