Energy shock relief should be phased out in 2-3 years -French central banker

PARIS, Dec 8 (Reuters) - Government measures to ease the cost of Europe's energy price shock should not be ramped up further and should be wound down in the next two or three years, the head of France's central bank said on Thursday.

European governments have committed tens of billions of euros this year to help households and businesses cope with record power and gas prices with measures ranging from subsidies to tax breaks and price caps.

Bank of France Governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau said that governments could not durably afford such measures, which ultimately only shifted the financial burden from some firms and households to others through the tax system and onto future generations through debt.

He said such measures should therefore decrease after the peak of the shock and should be designed not to undermine incentives to save energy along the lines of what Germany and the Netherlands have done.

"The public share in the distribution of the cumulative burden in 2022 and the following years should not exceed current levels and reverse towards zero within let's say two to three years," Villeroy said in a speech at the Toulouse School of Economics.

He added that the burden should he borne fairly between companies and households according to how much energy they use, even if that was likely to prove unpopular with the latter.

Cuts in Russian energy supplies this year have fuelled what economists call a terms of trade shock, where import prices rise much faster than export prices, resulting in a shift of wealth to the exporter.

For France, the central bank estimates the extra energy bill amounts to 47 billion euros, or 1.9% of GDP, this year compared to the previous year.

Villeroy said that the terms of trade shock would subside next year if commodity prices ease and a global economic slowdown weighs on imports.

However, it could also rumble on if gas prices remain high when European countries need to replenish their stocks for the 2023/2024 winter, he added.
Reporting by Leigh Thomas; editing by David Evans

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