Gas price spat overshadows EU energy ministers’ effort to tackle price crisis

All EU countries agree that the bloc has to take steps to cut soaring energy prices — but Friday’s emergency summit of energy ministers got bogged down in the details of how those policies would work.

According to the finalized meeting notes,  ministers expressed support for several major policy proposals unveiled earlier this week by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Those include: Taxing the windfall profits of producers not using expensive natural gas to generate power and a parallel profit clawback from fossil fuel companies also earning record cash; coordinating a reduction in bloc-wide power consumption; and providing “emergency liquidity instruments” to help energy firms meet sky-high collateral costs to trade on public exchanges. 

“We managed to find a clear direction for the measures which need to be taken,” said Czech Minister of Industry and Trade Josef Síkela, who presided over the emergency Energy Council. “We now know exactly which road we need to take.”

But it’s far from a done deal. 

Ministers expressed general support for capping the price of natural gas in some form, but there was a spat over whether such a cap would apply to all imports or just those from Russia — as proposed this week by von der Leyen. 

There was also disagreement over how to cut energy demand. The Commission wants that to be mandatory, but not all countries agree.

A request to relax state aid rules through the end of 2023 also figured prominently in ministers’ asks — which would allow governments to rescue ailing firms faced with the fallout from the Russian war on Ukraine.

In addition to a global price cap, ministers also broached another idea not proposed earlier this week by von der Leyen.

Source: Politico

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