Protest breaks out in Belgium over skyrocketing energy costs
People in Belgium take to the streets in 'a national day of action over increased cost of living.
Thousands of people from all over the country descended on the Belgian capital Brussels on Wednesday for "a national day of action" to protest against skyrocketing electricity, natural gas and food prices and the government's inaction in the face of this perfect storm of crises. The protestors also wanted to draw attention to the sharp hike in the cost of living.
City offficials and senior police Officers said that around 10,000 took part but in line with custom and practice in EU states when commenting on anti EU protests this is probavly a vast underestimate. People from across the country joined the protest, carrying banners reading "Life is much too expensive, we want solutions now," and "Everything is going up except our wages," or chanting "Freeze prices, not people." City traffic and public transportation was disrupted.
A Belgian opinion poll this week suggested that 64% of respondents are concerned that they will not be able to pay their electricity and gas bills, which have more than doubled over the last year, while 80% of said they are already trying to make energy and water savings.
"When we go grocery shopping, the weekly shop now costs 20, 30 dollars more at least, depending on the shop you go to, than this time last year. We are reaching a point where our wallets can’t keep up," said Pascal Kraeso, a citizen of Brussels.
A few days ago Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo warned
that "the next five to 10 winters will be difficult" because of high
electricity and natural gas prices fueled by Russia’s war in Ukraine. but with people all over Europe already at breaking point his warning was not well timed.
The European Union's 27 member countries have agreed to cut gas usage by 15% on average this winter, and aim in particular to reduce demand during peak hours, although no government has yet explained how this will be achieved. EU energy ministers are meeting next week to discuss the crisis.