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For central banks it poses a big problem when inflation is not "home made" but imported through higher energy prices. In this case inflation is not the result of a booming domestic economy but of external factors (political turmoil, peak oil, ...). Interest rate hiking be the central bank would be pretty ineffective except when it leads to a strengthening of the home currency.

Thanks to the ECB statistical Data Warehouse one can now easily download data on the contribution to the inflation rate (in percentage points) of various components of the harmonized consumer price index. Currently, 50% of the yearly inflation rate in the Euro area is due to higher energy prices even though energy only makes up 10% of the index.
inflation01
The good news: Many people look at the price of oil as a crude proxy for energy prices. Though it is true that the variation in the crude oil price explains the variation in consumer energy prices very well, the "beta" is pretty low. Crude oil prices (in EUR) have increased 700% since 1999 whereas consumer energy prices have "only" increased 90%. Given that many market participants think that at current oil prices the price elasticity of demand is no longer negligible the pressure might abate.
inflation02
Veracitor (guest) meinte am 26. Apr, 04:27:
can't "import" inflation without currency peg
Without a currency peg (or perhaps a de-facto currency peg when most trade contracts are denominated in some foreign currency), there can be no large amount of "imported inflation." A country with an independent currency should see exchange-rate changes, not inflation, when some foreign currency is debased (e.g., when the US Federal Reserve prints dollars), though there might be some short-run distortion.

To put that another way, just because the US dollar, for example, is debased causing oil to rise in dollar terms, any country using a currency which trades freely against the dollar should see their currency rise against said dollar, minimizing any change in the price of oil in local-currency units. 
Mahalanobis antwortete am 26. Apr, 21:47:
Imported inflation
is inflation due to increases in prices of imports. The chart shows the crude oil price per barrel in EUR. Oil is getting more expensive in real terms. USD is weak but not as weak to justify USD price increases in oil of several hundred per cent!

To put that another way: I'm not talking about importing "foreign inflation" that was caused by monetary easing abroad (as you note, a flexible exchange rate should take care of this). I'm talking about having to pay more for an imported good because of supply and demand factors. To keep the price of this product constant, you would have to have deflation somewhere else (domestic goods). And that's not so easy without hurting the domestic (in this case eurozone) economy. 
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