Amid the Russia-Ukraine war, COVID-induced supply chain issues and supplier price gouging, inflation is rising in Europe. Consumer price inflation in the Euro zone hit a record high last month.
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Inflation isn’t just a problem here in the U.S. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, COVID-induced supply chain issues and supplier price gouging are creating headaches in Europe, too. Rebecca Rosman has more.
REBECCA ROSMAN, BYLINE: Let’s start at the pump. Twenty-five-year-old Martin Brew (ph) says he has been bringing his Porsche, a gift from his dad, to this petrol station in southern Paris ever since he was a teenager. Just six months ago, he says gas costs him around a euro 50 a liter.
MARTIN BREW: And now it’s 2.43, as you can see.
ROSMAN: By the time he fills up the tank, he’ll have paid 141 euros, or about $150. So needless to say, he’s had to make some adjustments to his daily routine.
BREW: I’m cycling to work now. And in Paris, we’re kind of lucky you can take the bike.
ROSMAN: That’s not the only reason he’s lucky to live in Paris. While France’s inflation rate hit a record 5.8% in May, that’s still more than two points below the inflation rate for the Eurozone as a whole. Ana Boata is the head of economic research at the global insurance broker Allianz Trade.
ANA BOATA: Inflation is quite, quite high in all the eurozone countries. So France is clearly one of the exceptions.
ROSMAN: She explains that while rising energy prices have been a key driver of inflation, prices are still lower in France for two main reasons. One, France is less reliant on foreign energy imports, i.e., Russian oil, because of its nuclear power capabilities. And two, unlike many countries in the Eurozone, Boata says the French government has capped electricity price increases at 4%.
BOATA: Instead of 50%, which has been the norm this year. So we have clearly some mechanism that are operating and that keep inflation in check in some countries rather than the others.
ROSMAN: Others being countries like Germany, where energy prices have soared by 38%, and the overall inflation rate hit 8.7% last month. And worst of all, Estonia, which reached an astonishing 20.1% inflation rate. In fact, all the Baltic states have found themselves reaching double-digit inflation because they’re more dependent on imports from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. The European Central Bank says it expects inflation across the eurozone to persist well into 2023.
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ROSMAN: Even if France’s inflation rate is lower than other EU countries, prices at this Paris supermarket are going up. PE teacher Aayan Sefilar (ph) says his monthly shopping used to cost him around 250 euros.
AAYAN SEFILAR: Now if I want to do my grocery shopping, it’s, like, more like 300 or 350 euro, like, for my grocery. So a big increase.
ROSMAN: But most Europeans seem to be willing to pay the price. A Eurobarometer survey released Wednesday found that 59% of Europeans believe defending common EU values outweighs the cost-of-living issues, at least for now. For NPR News, I’m Rebecca Rosman in Paris.
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