The single largest contingent of readers of my essays is in the United States, and it is for their particular benefit that I open today’s piece with some concrete facts on how Europe’s self-imposed energy crisis resulting from the ban on import of Russian hydrocarbons is making it impossible for your average citizen of France, Belgium and many other countries in the EU to make ends meet. I hasten to add that the unworkable arithmetic of monthly household finance is day by day, week by week bringing us to the social unrest and political instability that I and others have been predicting ever since the trend lines on cost of living became clear some months ago.
I will not introduce official statistics, because when the going gets tough they tend to be presented in a very selective manner by the authorities. My ‘anecdotal’ evidence comes from the energy bills I am now receiving at my home in Brussels and from what friends and acquaintances in this country and in France tell me about their personal situations.
A couple of weeks ago, I received from Engie, the French based energy giant that owns Electrabel, the formerly independent Belgian electricity generator and distributor, a report on my annual electricity consumption for their accounting year ending on 7 October 2022. The total charges were 1807 euros, meaning 150 euros per month. In the same communication, they informed me that the new rates applied to the coming year will require a 285 euro debit from my bank each month. Presto, my electricity bill doubles!