The energy crisis did not start with the outbreak of the Russo-Ukrainian war, but it was the outbreak of the armed conflict that brought it to full scale and made it strongly felt by ordinary Europeans. It can be seen that European citizens’ confidence in energy supply was already fragile before the energy crisis, and by autumn 2022 the picture had become quite worrying. The latest research shows that 71% of EU and UK respondents are worried to some extent that their country could face blackouts, compared to only 49% in 2021. Public fears about energy affordability have also risen markedly. The proportion of EU and UK citizens who fear that energy could become too expensive for many people in their country has risen from 78% in 2021 to 87% in the second half of 2022.

With the energy crisis unfolding, the phenomenon of energy poverty is becoming increasingly prominent in public discourse, with two possible indicators being the survey of households experiencing heating and bill payment difficulties. At the end of 2022, 26% of EU and UK respondents said they were unable to heat their homes properly, with some countries having a problem that is spectacularly higher than the European average (56% of respondents in Greece reported heating difficulties). Similarly, one in four EU citizens (25%) have been unable to pay their utility bills on time in the last 12 months because of a lack of money. In Hungary, consumers are in a better position: only 18% of those surveyed said they had difficulties in this area.

The Europe Project research also looked at the responsibility behind the energy crisis. More than two-thirds (67%) of EU respondents agreed that the unfolding energy crisis in Europe is partly the result of the European Commission’s misguided energy policy. The proportion of those who attribute the crisis partly to the actions of the EU administration is highest in Greece (81%) and Germany and Portugal (75% in both). In addition, Europe’s population also attributes a role to Germany’s energy policy in the unfolding crisis. 40% of EU respondents believe that German energy policy has played a major role in Europe’s energy crisis, notably by shutting down nuclear power plants and preventing the Nord Stream pipeline from starting up. Interestingly, Germans are significantly more likely (57%) than the European average to attribute a major role to Germany’s energy policy in creating the current difficult situation.

Following the outbreak of the Russo-Ukrainian War, the EU leadership has made the elimination of Russian energy imports a priority, but research shows that the ambitions of the EU’s political elite do not match Europeans’ expectations on this issue. The survey reveals that a majority of EU citizens (51%) would prefer to allow other suppliers to import energy, rather than stopping Russian energy imports altogether, in order to force Russia to compete.