Meeting in Brussels, the energy ministers of the countries of the European Union must decide on a text that strengthens the solidarity of the European bloc. It provides for gas group purchases, a mechanism that guarantees that any country threatened with a shortage will receive gas from other member states, and “circuit breakers” to limit the volatility of hydrocarbon prices in the markets.
A second text on the table, also drafted by the Commission, aims to simplify and speed up permits for the installation of heat pumps and solar panels for a period of one year, with the aim of facilitating the production of “green” electricity. stimulate .
These two texts, which should apply once Member States give the green light, are consensual. But a deal is jeopardized by another Commission proposal to cap wholesale gas prices in the event of a surge, sparking outrage.
This device, unveiled on Tuesday, would include capping prices of monthly contracts on the TTF reference gas market for two consecutive weeks once they exceed EUR 275/MWh for two consecutive weeks – which has never been product, not even at the height of the price spike last August.
“At this level it is not a ceiling! These prices threaten households and businesses, we have wasted too much time with no results,” Greek minister Konstantinos Skrekas said angrily upon his arrival, considering that any agreement on solidarity measures and joint purchases would be conditional on an effective price cap.
“It’s a joke! It’s -10 degrees here, we don’t want to keep talking about solidarity or renewable energies, we need to discuss a cap on gas prices now” and get a new text from the European executive “in the next few days”, wished his Polish colleague, Anna Moskwa.
Belgian minister Tinne Van der Straeten emphasized that she believes the Commission’s proposal is “insufficient”. But she does not want to specify what an acceptable ceiling price is for Belgium.
In her view, the modalities in the current Commission proposal are in any case not sufficiently refined. “We are in favor of a mechanism that can intervene if the price is indeed too high. What is now before us is no guarantee that it will work in practice,” added the federal energy minister.
“It is important to agree on all files at the same time (…) I don’t think it is possible today,” she said again.
Spanish minister Teresa Ribera also denounced the Commission’s proposal, “inapplicable and ineffective” to cap prices, highlighting “the great concern of a large majority of Member States” on this issue.
Greece, Italy, Belgium and Poland are among the most advanced countries to defend this market intervention mechanism, while the European Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, is reluctant to promote gas price caps, as Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark claim the certainty of the European gas supply.
However, as the proposed ceiling is “insufficient” and “definitely not a response to the rising prices” threatening European industry, the French minister, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, called for the approval of the other texts on Thursday. “We shouldn’t mix things up and move forward where we can,” she pleaded.
The next meeting of European energy ministers is scheduled for December 19.