Gas price cap: “At this level, it is not a ceiling! These prices threaten households and businesses”

EU countries showed their differences on Thursday on a Commission proposal to cap gas prices, which the majority deemed ineffective, which prevented them from adopting other measures to respond to the energy crisis.

Meeting in Brussels, the Energy Ministers approved the content of a text providing for joint gas purchases and a solidarity mechanism – so that countries threatened with shortages are automatically helped by other Member States -, as well as another text simplifying authorizations for renewable energy infrastructures.

If the Czech Minister Jozef Sikela, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the EU, welcomed on Twitter “an agreement on these important measures”, a European diplomat specified to AFP that this agreement remained “informal”, the texts not being formally adopted.

As expected, no compromise has been found on the Commission’s proposal to cap gas prices, which has raised an outcry.

“Negotiations are continuing, and it appears that there can only be formal adoption if an agreement is reached on all three texts,” added the diplomatic source.

Mr. Sikela also announced the holding of a new ministerial meeting “in the first half of December”.

“It is important to reach an agreement on all the files at the same time, it is a question of balance”, had estimated Thursday morning the Belgian Minister Tinne van der Straeten.

The controversial scheme proposed by the European executive on Tuesday would consist in capping for one year the prices of monthly contracts on the TTF reference gas market as soon as they exceed 275 euros/MWh for two consecutive weeks, among other conditions – which does not ever happened, even at the height of the price spike last August.

“At this level, it’s not a ceiling! Gas prices are threatening households and businesses, we have wasted too much time without results,” fumed Greek Minister Konstantinos Skrekas on his arrival in Brussels.

“It’s a joke! It’s -10 degrees here, we don’t want to continue talking about solidarity or renewables, we must discuss a gas price cap now” and obtain a new text from the European executive “in the coming days”, also estimated his Polish counterpart Anna Moskwa.

“Bad joke”

Spanish Minister Teresa Ribera deemed the Commission’s proposal “inapplicable and ineffective” to cap prices, calling it a “bad joke” and stressing “the great concern of a large majority of member states” on this subject.

Considering that the proposed cap is “insufficient” and “certainly not a response to the soaring prices” which threatens European industry, French Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher had however called for the other texts to be approved. “We have to move forward where we can,” she pleaded.

“Let’s not be distracted by these capping stories, that’s not going to change things!”, Also urged his Luxembourg counterpart Claude Turmes, judging that joint purchases of gas from “reliable” partners of the On the contrary, the EU and the acceleration of renewables have the capacity to modify “the fundamentals” of the market.

The leaders of the Twenty-Seven, at a summit at the end of October, had asked Brussels to prepare a “temporary” mechanism to cap gas prices, but on the express condition that this does not disrupt supplies from the continent and that this does not encourage not to consume more hydrocarbons – safeguards required in particular by Germany, very reluctant, like the Netherlands, to any intervention on the markets.

“We received very clear instructions on the need to avoid adverse effects, and that’s what we did,” Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson defended on Thursday.

“The proposal goes in the right direction. We are ready to negotiate (…) but if the cap is excessive, we will have no more supplies and no more gas”, due to competition from Asian buyers offering higher prices, reiterated German State Secretary Sven Giegold.

Leave a Comment