EU seeks solution to soaring energy prices
Energy ministers from the European Union (EU) meet in Prague on Wednesday to plot what the European Commission should propose as the bloc’s next emergency energy measure.
The 27-country EU is deciding on measures to tame soaring energy prices and shield consumers from surging bills, as Europe heads into a winter of scarce Russian gas, a cost of living crisis and the looming threat of recession.
“We need to find a quick solution that will be applicable to all the European Union,” a senior EU official said. “National solutions are not a way s prices is set to dominate the meeting as European Union countries pursue a joint plan to target high gas prices – a compromise that has eluded them for weeks.
Talks among EU leaders last week did little to clarify the next steps.
Those discussions “went in all directions”, one EU diplomat said – referring to the numerous options being floated, including a price cap on all gas, pipeline gas, or just gas used to produce electricity.
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Others were more hopeful a consensus was emerging. The senior EU official said countries were leaning towards the “Iberian model” of capping the price of gas used for power generation as a quick fix.
Spain and Portugal implemented that scheme in June, which helped curb local power prices.
The idea has gained support among other countries, although some worry it could raise EU gas demand since Spain’s gas use increased under the measure.
EU countries have already rushed through emergency energy windfall profit levies, gas storage filling obligations, and electricity demand curbs to address the surge in energy prices driven by Russia slashing gas supplies since it invaded Ukraine.
The pressure to agree on more EU-wide measures has increased after Germany said it would spend up to 200 billion euros to shield its consumers and businesses from high energy costs.
With gas prices almost 90% higher than a year ago, most EU countries say they want a gas price cap but disagree on its design.
Some countries, including Germany, Europe’s biggest gas market, remain opposed.