More time needed to agree on a possible gas price cap in the EU

EU leaders discussed gas price cap options in Europe on Friday (October 7th) at an informal summit in Prague.

They are expected to return to the issue at their usual meeting in Brussels on October 20-21 – when a potential agreement on how to cut natural gas prices to deal with soaring bills could be reached by the 27 chief executives. state and government.

“The next formal European Council will be an important milestone,” Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala told a press conference after the meeting.

Several proposals to limit the price of gas have been put on the table after 15 member states called for directly limiting the price of gas.

These include negotiating prices with gas suppliers in Norway and the United States, creating a complementary index for LNG and setting price caps – whether for gas imports, intra -EU or both.

EU states have taken different and varied measures at the national level to bring prices down.

But calls for coordination and common solutions have gained momentum in recent weeks, particularly after some countries criticized Germany’s new 200 billion euro stimulus package to protect its economy and consumers. effects of rising energy prices.

“Our common ambition is to reduce energy prices,” said EU Council President Charles Michel.

Ahead of the meeting, Latvian Prime Minister Arturs Krišjānis Kariņš asserted that the fight against soaring prices is not only important for the European economy, but also to support Ukraine.

“If we can bring down the price of gas in Europe, we can help our economy and our citizens, but we must also do it to maintain the support of our citizens for the war effort against Russia,” Krišjānis warned.

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Belgium, France, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Greece, Italy and Spain are among the supporters of wholesale gas price caps, while Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Hungary and Denmark have opposed it so far.

“Now is the time” to act together, said Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo. “If we agree on that, we can start looking at the technical side.”

Efforts to tackle the energy crisis, including price caps, will be discussed by EU energy ministers at the informal meeting next week (11-12 October).

But some countries have already expressed concern about the impact of price caps on security of supply.

“We support the price differential if it does not hamper security of supply,” Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said before the meeting with her counterparts.

“We are in the world market, competing, for example, for LNG. If our region has a price gap and the other regions do not have a price gap, then we will simply be out of gasoline because no one will sell us the gas”.

The commission is expected to present a clear proposal to cut gas prices ahead of the European Council later this month.

“How to partially decouple the influence of the gas price in the formation of the electricity price could be the first step of a deep market reform that we are considering,” European Commission President Ursula said on Friday in Prague. von der Leyen.

The commission’s proposal should push for further energy savings, beyond the current voluntary targets.

“Today, seven months after the start of the war that Russia started against Ukraine. We are much better prepared for winter than before,” she said.

Gas imports from Russia have fallen from 40% before the war to 8% today, von der Leyen said.

Meanwhile, there is broad support for a joint gas supply next spring to avoid a situation in which member states outbid each other on world markets.


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