Thousands gather in Belgium to protest against high energy prices – WPXI

BRUSSELS – (AP) – Thousands of people gathered in Brussels, the Belgian capital, on Wednesday for “a national day of action” to protest against soaring electricity, natural gas and food prices and draw attention to the sharp rise in the cost of living.

Unions and city police said around 10,000 people participated. People across the country gathered, marching behind banners saying “Life is way too expensive, we want solutions now” and “Everything is going up except our wages,” or carrying signs reading “Freeze prices, not people”. Urban traffic and public transport were disrupted.

A Belgian media poll this week showed that 64% of respondents fear they will not be able to pay their electricity and gas bills, which have more than doubled over the past year, while 80% of respondents said they were already trying to save energy and water.

“When we go shopping, what’s in the basket now costs 20, 30 euros (dollars) more, or even more depending on the store where we go. We are reaching a point where our wallets can no longer keep up,” said Pascal Kraeso, a protester from Brussels.

Last month, Prime Minister Alexander de Croo warned that “the next five to ten winters will be difficult” due to high electricity and natural gas prices fueled by Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The 27 member countries of the European Union have agreed to reduce their gas consumption by 15% on average this winter, and aim in particular to reduce demand at peak times. EU energy ministers meet next week to discuss the crisis.

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