By Chris King • 22 March 2022 • 19:07
The price of electricity in Spain and Portugal on Friday, May 6.
This Wednesday, March 23, the European Commission will present its menu of options to deal with the rising electricity and gas costs in Europe, resulting from Russia’s war against Ukraine. It is believed that among the motions included will be the possibility of imposing ceilings on gas and electricity prices.
This measure to mitigate the increase in the price of electricity for consumers has been demanded by Spain, France, Italy, Portugal, Greece Poland, and Belgium. There is strong resistance to this idea though from Germany, the Netherlands, and the Nordic states.
On March 24 and 25, this is due to be discussed in a meeting of the European Heads of State and Government.
“In terms of energy security and climate neutrality, we will seek to put caps on gas and electricity prices, and mitigate the increase in the price of electricity for consumers”, Maros Sefcovic, the Vice President of the European Commission announced today after the meeting of European Affairs ministers held in Brussels.
He explained, “In the Commission, we think that there is enormous volatility in the electricity market, and that, because of the high gas prices, the total impact on the price of energy is detrimental from the point of view of energy poverty and competitiveness of European industry. We have to find the best solutions to solve this issue”.
France’s Clement Beaune, the Secretary of State for the EU, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the Union, has defended the need for “more important price control instruments for difficult periods like the one we are going through”.
He has also admitted though that this prescription does not generate unanimous support among the Member States. Specifically, Beaune has said that the discussion on this point remains “difficult”.
There appears to be greater consensus on the need to accelerate independence with respect to gas from Russia. This now accounts for 40 per cent of the total consumed in the EU, although no one dares to put a date on it.
In its package of proposals this Wednesday, Brussels will propose to force by law that all gas deposits in the EU be filled up to 90 per cent before November 1 of each year. “This would make us much more resilient in the event of any geopolitical events, harsh winters or any other kind of problem that we may encounter,” said Sefcovic.
“The fact that our deposits are at their lowest levels for many years has caused us a lot of difficulties in January”, he acknowledged. Many of these gas storages are owned by Russia’s Gazprom, which also worries Brussels, which considers them “strategic infrastructure”.
“That is why we will also introduce provisions to deal with the risks in terms of ownership of gas infrastructures”, pointed out the vice-president.
The last pillar of Brussels’ new strategy to deal with the energy crisis consists of promoting joint purchases of gas in order to strengthen bargaining power vis-à-vis world suppliers. This plan copies the model used to purchase Covid-19 vaccines. An idea that was also originally raised by the Government of Pedro Sanchez.
“Europe must use its enormous weight in a better way, with the scale of our European economy, when negotiating energy prices and gas supplies to the EU”, stressed says Sefcovic. Brussels is considering creating a working group to be able to determine the amounts of gas that the different Member States need at any given time, as reported by elespanol.com.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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