Italy cannot cope with high energy bills without EU action - PM

Italian PM Meloni holds news conference in Rome

MILAN (Reuters) - Italy is spending around 5 billion euros ($5.2 billion) a month to shield firms and families from high energy prices, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said on Thursday, complaining that the bill will become unsustainable without EU action.

"It will be difficult without EU measures to cope with these costs," Meloni said while speaking remotely to the Italian municipalities association (ANCI) annual meeting in the northern city of Bergamo.

She spoke as EU energy ministers were locking horns in Brussels over a European Commission proposal to cap gas prices at 275 euros per megawatt hour (MWh), part of the bloc's response to the energy crisis triggered by Russia's war on Ukraine.

Italy's energy and environment minister, Gilberto Pichetto Fratin said on Wednesday that the commission's cap plan was insufficient and set too high, and risked fuelling price speculation rather than containing it. ($1 = 0.9631 euros)

(Reporting by Federico Maccioni, editing by Alvise Armellini)