ANKARA – Preparing for the possibility that Russia will fully cut off gas supplies to the European Union (EU) in retaliation to Western sanctions over the war in Ukraine, governments are coming up with measures to rein in runaway bills and give some relief to anxious citizens.

Germany

German forest companies have started to use GPS trackers to prevent wood theft as the energy crisis is deepening in the country.

According to local media reports, many companies are facing a growing number of timber thefts and seeking ways to counter them with new measures.

“Unfortunately, rising energy prices are increasingly tempting people to steal firewood,” forest company ForstBW’s chief executive Max Reger told Forstpraxis magazine.

The GPS trackers used by the company is allowing the employees to check the position of the wood at any time.

The gas bill of a bakery in Germany increased by more than 1,200 percent.

The managing director of the Vatter bakery told local media that he was shocked when he received the new gas bill, showing that his monthly bill has risen to €75,000 ($75,000).

"A year ago, it was €5,856 a month for our large ovens and heating. We had a contract with a price guarantee until the end of 2023, but it was suddenly terminated,” Eckehard Vatter, the owner of the family-run business, told Bild daily.

The last gas bill for the company amounted to €330,000 for four-and-a-half months, payable in the next 14 days.

The Vatter bakery chain has 35 stores and 430 employees in the northern state of Lower Saxony.

Eckehard Vatter said the family business has weathered every crisis since 1955, but things have never been as bad as they are now.

Skyrocketing energy prices, exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, are fueling panic among many German small and medium-sized enterprises.

On Wednesday, hundreds of bakery owners and employees protested in downtown Hanover to draw attention to their worsening situation.

UK

Nearly 70 percent of pubs in the UK may face closure, due to skyrocketing energy bills if the government fails to provide an urgent relief package soon.

Sacha Lord, head of the Night Time Industries Association, urged the government to act without delay as businesses remain in the dark over their future, according to a report by local newspaper The Independent.

The new government of Prime Minister Liz Truss last week said bills of households will be frozen until 2024, but did not reveal a detailed plan for businesses, promising six months of “equivalent” relief.

Some pubs have already opted to shut shop due to surging energy costs.

One of the latest was Brighton Beer Dispensary, a popular spot in the seaside town of Brighton.

In an announcement last weekend, the management said one of the reasons for the decision was spiraling energy costs, according to The Argus, a local paper in Brighton.

Truss unveiled a plan last week to deal with the energy crisis, pledging to freeze electricity and gas bills so that the average household pays no more than £2,500 ($2,163) per year.

The freeze would last two years and save families £1,000 on average.

Her plan includes a separate six-month scheme of the same support for businesses, schools and hospitals, while measures for the hospitality sector are to be announced at a later date.

The cost of the government scheme is reported to be around £100 billion or more.

Later this month, new Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng will share details of the expenses and how the government intends to meet the costs.

Italy

Rising energy costs also risk the future of the Italian football league Serie C, Italian media reported.

Serie C has requested help from the government due to high energy costs, Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport reported Wednesday.

Sponsors have cut their payments to the teams due to rising energy costs, it added.

Meanwhile, Europeans are increasingly buying Chinese-made electric blankets and heaters, according to the data by China’s Electrical Appliance Manufacturers Association.

Exports of electric blankets to European countries jumped by 97 percent and electric heater exports by 23 percent between January and July when compared to the same period of the previous year, the data showed. (Anadolu)