I will read out some of the response because it has been thought through.
The first message is that the current high prices are caused by the war in Ukraine. I hope that is agreed by everyone in this House. Failure to understand that is really challenging because I do not see any other explanation.
We face particular challenges because we are a price taker on international markets and Irish electricity and gas prices have historically been affected by long-standing drivers such as geographical isolation, dispersed population, fossil fuel dependency and small market scale.
The Government is acutely aware of the impact on consumers of these high electricity and gas prices and introduced last year, as I stated earlier, a €2.4 billion package. We will go further this year in budget 2023 to protect our people.
The Commission for Regulation of Utilities, CRU, as I said earlier, has also announced enhanced consumer protection measures to be implemented by electricity and gas providers ahead of the coming winter. That will provide additional protections from disconnections and other safeguards for customers.
The CRU, as I stated in an earlier contribution, is responsible for electricity regulation. It ceased price setting for electricity and gas in 2011 and 2014, respectively. Therefore, the setting of prices in that regard is a commercial matter for individual supply companies. It also has statutory responsibility to ensure security of supply and has the duty to monitor electricity supplies and to make sure measures are in place as considered necessary to protect that security of supply. The CRU, assisted by EirGrid and my Department, has a programme of demand and supply-side actions under way to ensure the security of our electricity supply over the coming winters.
Our long-term priority and the best long-term approach for Ireland is to insulate consumers from volatility on international wholesale energy markets by investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy, expanding interconnection with European and neighbouring markets and deepening internal market integration.