The bill for Europe’s energy crisis is nearing 500 billion euros ($496 billion) as governments rush to soften the blow of soaring prices, according to the Bruegel think-tank. The European Union’s 27 member states have so far earmarked 314 billion euros to cushion the impact of the energy crunch on consumers and businesses, while the U.K. has allocated 178 billion euros, Bruegel’s updated estimates showed on Wednesday. The growing fiscal burden — EU spending accounts for 1.7% of the bloc’s gross domestic product — comes as European nations grapple with accelerating inflation and a bleak economic outlook. EU ministers are negotiating an emergency plan that will transfer windfall energy company profits to vulnerable households and firms. The deal, expected to be reached on Sept. 30, also includes a power price cap and a target to reduce electricity demand as Moscow squeezes gas flows to the region. “Initially designed as […]