The main topic of the Tripartite Social Summit, held on 19 October, was “Tackling the energy crisis and the cost of living crisis: How to protect the economy, businesses and workers”. Leaders of the European Union met with social partners to discuss the unprecedented rise in energy prices following the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which has adverse effects on welfare and economy.
The European Commission aims respond to the crisis with the robust REPowerEU Plan, the goal of which is to transform the European energy system by relying on renewables, efficiency improvement, and other innovative technologies, such as large scale digitalisation. In addition, the Commission recently proposed an emergency regulation in order to secure gas supply by joint purchasing, solidarity and allocation mechanisms between member states. In addition, by March 2023, the commission intends to establish a price benchmark, and until that time proposes limits on and correction mechanisms of gas prices.
However, the crisis also concerns scientific infrastructures. Numerous research facilities require a high amount of energy in order to properly function – therefore their operational costs increased by a proportionally much higher margin than of regular user’s. These facilities are often forced to operate with a reduced capacity or even consider temporary shutdowns – one of them being CERN, the world’s largest particle physics laboratory, which had to reduce its operational capacity by 20%. The unpredictability of the often-irregular energy needs for research poses further challenges, which makes providing support difficult.