MOSCOW, September 15 — PRIME, Dmitry Mudrik. For decades, the countries of the West in general and Europe in particular have acted for developing countries as a benchmark of comfort and freedom, a benchmark of “successful life.” Marketers of global corporations taught that breath should be fresh, a car should be updated every three years, and rest should be in comfortable locations. However, now Europeans, accustomed to pleasing themselves in everything, find themselves in a situation where they have to choose between the necessary and the most necessary. What will their life be like in the conditions of the energy crisis – in the material of the Prime agency.
Recall that after the start of the special operation in Ukraine, European countries imposed unprecedented sanctions against Russia, including on the purchase of energy resources. As a result, prices for gas, oil and coal began to rise, pushing up inflation and the rise in prices of all types of goods, including basic foodstuffs.
In the Old World, it is customary to count money and save: live within your means, calculate and pay taxes on your own, find the most profitable option for a major purchase – for example, a car or a house. What is more profitable: to use an old refrigerator that “eats a lot of energy”, or to buy a new, more energy-intensive one every five years? How is it actually cheaper: to overpay for an apartment in the center or to travel with a transfer from the suburbs?
Savings are pushing Europeans to abandon their personal car because of expensive parking, separate waste collection (the fine for improperly sorted recyclables reaches several hundred euros), call old dresses “vintage” and shop at flea markets.
It would seem, who, if not these people, should introduce a fashion for saving energy resources? Even in the spring, the Germans were taught in social commercials to heat the premises with the help of heating candles. In the summer, bans began to appear on showers in fitness clubs and fines for shops that turn on air conditioning when the doors are open. In the first days of autumn, there were calls to sleep in a coat to reduce the cost of heating residential premises. But are the Europeans ready to make these sacrifices and what are the EU authorities ready to demand from them next?
However, not all European consumers understand that their main problem is not expensive energy sources, but their absence. As we remember from the basics of economics, in the event of a shortage of any product, the price of it can rise to almost any mark. For most European countries, energy carriers are becoming such a scarce commodity.
The second important point that Europeans still do not understand is that the cost of energy resources is embedded in almost all spheres of life. For decades, steel mills, machine building, trade, the housing and communal services system and agricultural greenhouses have been operating on cheap Russian pipeline gas. Therefore, one should not expect that the shortage of raw materials will affect only utility bills.
The more obstacles Europe poses to Russian energy resources, the more often they report about the closure of enterprises. In September, the largest aluminum supplier in the region, the Slovak company Slovalco, stopped its work. The suspension of production was reported by the Budel zinc plant in the Netherlands, the chemical giant Chimcomplex in Romania, the fertilizer producers ANWIL in Poland, Yara in Norway, and the German giant SKW Sticksoffwerke Piesteritz is closing branches. Farmers across the continent have been reporting for months that growing vegetables and fruits is not only becoming unprofitable, the prices of fertilizer and “light” are ruining farms and they are forced to turn off greenhouses and lay off workers.
According to European economists, the loss of work due to the energy crisis threatens the employed in almost all industries. Stopping one such giant as SKW Sticksoffwerke Piesteritz will leave thousands of people without work – and therefore without a livelihood. How will they pay not only for skyrocketing utility bills, but also for loans, cars, medical bills, or children’s education?
The reduction will quickly spread further along the chain. If people have a choice between paying utility bills or buying food, then Europeans will not spend money on manicures, fitness clubs or bars. This will lead to a reduction in income in the service sector. And so in a circle.
WAITING FOR MASS PROTESTS
European politicians report that in a few years the countries of the region will completely defeat their dependence on Russian energy resources. However, citizens are not ready to “stop and wait” by tightening their belts. Rallies and protests are increasingly breaking out in the EU countries. Political scientists have repeatedly stated: the worse the population lives in conditions of high inflation and expensive payments for everything, the more massive the protests will be.
With their statements, the authorities only add fuel to the fire of popular anger. Today, the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, compared anti-Russian sanctions with a diet. In order for Russia to “lose weight”, you need to wait, otherwise the “kilograms will return.” However, the Europeans criticized this statement of the diplomat, saying that “while the fat one dries, the thin Europe will die.”
Russia, unlike the EU countries, has both energy resources and a fairly developed agro-industrial sector (by the way, also due to the food embargo imposed by the Kremlin in response to the 2014 sanctions pressure), and the production of fertilizers. Unlike ordinary Europeans, who may soon face a choice: die of cold or hunger.