According to EU figures, inflation in Europe rose to a new record on Friday. This is a sign that rising energy costs fueled by Russia’s war in Ukraine are pushing consumers to the limit and putting pressure on central banks to raise interest rates.
According to Eurostat, the European Union statistics agency Eurostat, consumer prices rose 7.5% annually in March in 19 euro-using countries.
This month’s reading was 5.9%, which is a new record. This is the fifth consecutive month in which the eurozone’s inflation has broken a record. It marks the highest level of inflation since 1997, when records began to be kept.
Rising consumer prices are a problem all over the globe, making it harder for people to pay their utilities bills and groceries. Rising energy costs are the primary factor behind inflation in Europe. Prices jumped 44.7% in February from 32% in February, Eurostat reported.
Because of rising demand from countries recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, oil and gas prices have been on the rise. On fears that export restrictions and sanctions could reduce supplies, they jumped higher after Russia invaded Ukraine, a major oil-and gas producer.
It is also becoming more costly to eat in Europe. Food prices, including tobacco and alcohol, increased 5% compared to 4.2% the previous month.
Mina Agib runs a Berlin-based Egyptian restaurant called Meya Meya. She said that prices for frying oils and meats have risen by as much as 70% to 100% in recent years.
Agib responded, “Who isn’t affected?” when Agib was asked if he feels the effects of rising prices.
Agib stated that two weeks ago, one his suppliers had said that meat prices would rise by 70 eurocs (77cs per kilogram) “They said they expected another increase next week.”
Agib had to increase the prices of certain dishes in order not lose money. A customer was furious at being charged half the price for a plate with sliced meat, dips, and salad. This is his first negative review online since his restaurant opened more than a year ago.
He said, “We are between a rock & a hard place.” We want our customers to be happy by providing high-quality ingredients as well as homemade food. We also have to pay the right prices for our suppliers.”
Andreas Langheim, a Cologne-based shopper, lamented the increasing cost of life at an outdoor market.
Langheim, 62 years old, stated that he could see the effects of rising prices as he grabbed bread from a van selling bakery goods. “Everything is more costly now.”
Prices rose 3.4% for clothing, appliances and computers, compared to the 3.1% the month prior. The same was true for books and services, which increased 2.7% from 2.5%.
Analysts said that the latest figures show it is more important for the European Central Bank (ECB) to act immediately. The bank is trying to balance record inflation and the risk that war could hurt an economy. It has accelerated its withdrawal from economic stimulus efforts in combating inflation but not taken any more drastic measures.
Jack Allen-Reynolds (capital Economics senior Europe economist) stated in a report that “we think that the ECB soon will conclude that it cannot wait any longer before beginning to increase interest rates.”
Other central banks have also begun raising rates, such as in the U.S. where inflation has reached a 40-year high at 7.9%. The euro has been used by many European countries, including Britain and Norway.
Mario Draghi, the Italian Premier, was a former president of the European Central Bank. He explained how the problem affects households.
“Inflation is increasing because raw material prices are rising, especially for food products. These are the ones that will most affect a family’s purchasing power,” Draghi explained to foreign journalists on Thursday. “Shortages of certain raw materials causes a bottleneck in production, which leads to further price increases.”
Draghi stated that governments can respond to inflation as long as it is temporary by implementing budgetary measures such as payment for low-income families with higher electricity and heating costs. He said that if the issue becomes more serious, the solution will need to be structural.
Inflation is threatening thousands of jobs in Italy’s construction sector. The sector is at risk of slowing down and even stopping completely due to rising fuel costs and the cost of raw materials like iron reinforced concrete and steel.