Swedish Finance Minister says too soon to know impact of higher natural gas prices on European growth outlook

Swedish Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson before the start of an ECOFIN meeting at the EU Council headquarters in Brussels.

Thierry Charlier/AFP/Getty Images

It is too soon to know what impact higher natural gas prices will have on the European economy, said Swedish Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson on Thursday.

In comments to reporters at a press briefing in Washington and on a subsequent television interview, Andersson said the impact on the European economy depends on how policy makers “handle” the higher prices and how long the higher prices last.

Energy prices are a hot topic behind the scenes at the IMF and World Bank annual meetings in Washington this week, Andersson said.

Prices of fossil fuels around the globe are surging, leading some commodity pros to refer to the current condition as an “energy crisis” that could have far-reaching implications for consumers.

Read: Energy crisis? What experts are saying

See also: Why consumers will be paying a lot more for natural gas this winter

It was clear that governments need to help the most vulnerable and invest more in renewable energy, Andersson said. She was speaking in her role as chair of the International Monetary and Finance Committee [IMFC], which provides strategic direction to the IMF.

“We can never let energy prices be used as an argument to slow down the green transition,” Andersson said.

Appearing at the same press briefing, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva urged energy-importing countries not to enact “blanket subsidy programs” to offset higher energy prices.

She said it was critical for governments to invest more in renewable energy.