The European Commission’s refusal last Friday, September 30, to set a limit on the price of all gas purchased by the member states has caused a big divide among EU countries. A majority of 15 nations displayed their clear discomfort that there is still no legislative proposal in this regard. They have demanded that the institution deals with it ‘as soon as possible’.
Giants such as Germany and the Netherlands have not joined fifteen other governments, including Spain, who proposed to act as a block and stop paying for gas at exorbitant prices. This 15-nation majority claims that the price cap is necessary to avoid having to use public resources such as tax cuts to curb the effect on the economy.
“I am willing to convene as many extraordinary Councils as necessary to implement the legislative actions that are necessary as soon as possible”, warned Jozef Sikela, the Czech Minister of Industry and Commerce. His country, the Czech Republic currently holds the temporary presidency of the EU.
The affirmation shows the impatience for the push-and-pull on the part of the European Commission. It is in charge of making legislative proposals, but it is the member states who have to approve them. These requests for Ursula von der Leyen’s organisation to come up with the right proposal to solve the problem have been ongoing since the start of September.
In another extraordinary Energy Council, the European governments amended the Commission’s proposal to limit the price of the gas they buy from Russia. They suggested that instead of only applying to gas of Russian origin, the price cap should be applied to all the gas that the EU buys. This would mean wherever it comes from, and whether by pipeline or by ship, in liquid form, such as liquefied natural gas.
The request was however passed-by in the list of measures to intervene urgently in the electricity market. Three other requests were adopted last Friday 30 though. These included limiting the price of renewables, cutting electricity consumption by 5 per cent, and creating a tax on oil and gas companies.
In its proposal to member states, Brussels reflected the joint purchasing platform. Some countries such as Germany, which are very dependent on Russian gas, are very fearful that a general price limit will reduce the supply to the EU from other sources. They were inclined to look at the possibility of negotiating together with ceiling prices that were variable, ‘dynamic’, and not fixed.
None of this seemed enough for a majority of European ministers, who insisted that the Commission must present a proposal to set a limit on the price of the gas it buys for ‘next week’.
Jozef Sikela stated: “As Presidency of the Council, I have noticed serious concerns among the member states about the continuation of the extraordinary Council of September 9”, referring to the meeting in which for the first time the member states asked the Commission for a proposal to put a cap on the price of all gas imported into the EU.
“The ministers have asked for a timetable for proposals to the Commission to stabilise the price of energy, and it should do so ‘super quickly'”, Sikela stressed. He mentioned the possibility of introducing limits on imported gas prices, and another proposal that both the Commission and countries such as Spain see as necessary, TFF highly influenced by the price of Russian gas, which ‘distorts’ the market, as reported by 20minutos.es.
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