Europe's energy crisis: France to freeze natural gas and electricity prices

France will freeze natural gas and electricity prices amid surging energy costs in Europe, the prime minister has announced.

"We will freeze, freeze. There will be no more increases to the gas price," Prime Minister Jean Castex told French broadcaster TF1 on Thursday night.

Castex said he expected gas prices to continue rising by around 30% through the end of the year and potentially increase through the spring but he said consumers would not see those increases on their bills.

Instead, the energy regulator's 12.6% increase to the natural gas prices, which came into force on Friday, will remain in place.

Electricity prices will also be frozen, although an increase could be necessary in 2022: "We will limit an increase in electricity prices to 4%," Castex said.

The prime minister announced several measures to address the crisis including energy vouchers for six million households that need help to pay their bills.

The rising natural gas prices are related to both demand and supply problems in Europe following a long winter last year.

Demand has risen sharply across the globe as countries exit lockdown and restart their economies.

Opposition lawmakers were quick to criticise the government, with Socialist Stéphane Troussel telling FranceInfo that the measures were "too little, too late."

Jean-Luc Melenchon, founder of the far-left La France Insoumise, tweeted: "Castex's plan against rising prices is simple: you give him your watch and he gives you the time. You pay upfront, and later you will pay the same."