Brussels: EU leaders to discuss how to deal with Europe’s energy shock on Thursday (20 October) impose a ceiling on gas prices Raised into the sky by the war in Ukraine.
The bloc’s 27 member states, which have been battling for months over measures to bring down energy prices, arrive at the Brussels summit in a somber mood.
Countries such as Italy are pressing for a swift and ambitious price cap, in the face of opposition from Germany, the EU’s largest economy.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said at a summit earlier this month that “a seven-month delay has brought about a recession,” according to an official familiar with the matter.
The European Union’s executive body, the European Commission, is trying to satisfy a wide range of views with a series of proposals that it hopes will help Europeans pay their heating bills as winter approaches.
The push for a common approach has been further hampered by rifts between France and Germany, which were revealed on Wednesday when the regular meeting of ministers was postponed.
If the bloc’s biggest powers disagree, it will be difficult to achieve breakthroughs in the EU.
“There has been a lot of progress, but no fundamental breakthroughs,” said a senior EU diplomat involved in the negotiations ahead of the two-day summit.
“The priorities are different. Germany chose to secure supply because it can afford high prices, but many countries cannot keep up with the costs,” the diplomat added.
The Commission’s proposal includes the idea of allowing joint purchases by the EU’s energy giants to replenish reserves at cheaper prices.
“slowly breaking bones”
Another proposal is to authorize the Commission to establish pricing ‘corridors’ in major European gas indices to intervene when prices spiral out of control.
At a meeting in Brussels, EU leaders will fight over the commission’s proposal, with some countries wanting far more extensive than what is offered.
“You don’t have to ask the commission four times to get a proposal,” Spain’s environment minister Teresa Ribera told AFP ahead of the summit.
“It’s frustrating to see how slow and painstaking Europe’s response is to the challenges we face,” Rivera said.
A big problem is the relationship between gas and electricity prices in Europe. Under EU regulations, the gas price index helps determine electricity prices across the continent.
But the index has soared since Russia, a country that supplied 40% of EU gas imports before the war, invaded Ukraine.
Several countries are seeking exceptions to the gas pricing mechanism.
This was already granted to Spain and Portugal earlier this year, giving them the freedom to keep their electricity prices lower, even as prices have skyrocketed.
Germany opposes the idea, arguing that cheaper gas will discourage users from cutting back on energy use.
https://www.channelnewsasia.com/world/eu-leaders-struggle-common-ground-energy-prices-gas-price-brussels-3016421 EU leaders struggle for common ground on energy prices