Energy crisis: Fifteen member states, including Belgium, call for gas price caps

On the initiative of Belgium, fifteen energy ministers sent a letter to the Commission on Tuesday evening. They are asking the European administration to present them with a proposal by this Friday.

Info “Evening”
Journalist in World Service

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LBelgium did not give up. For weeks now, (Groen) Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten and her experts have been campaigning at European level for a common cap on gas prices. Faced with the commission’s apparent adjournment, Belgium and fourteen other member states, including Italy and France, sent a no-nonsense letter to the commission on Tuesday evening, two days before an extraordinary council convened on Friday. the evening I was able to consult.

Fifteen signatory countries are calling for a limit on natural gas transactions, which are general and not limited to “imports from specific countries”. So, there is no question of targeting only Russian gas. Respond to the objections of countries such as Germany, the Netherlands or Hungary: “This cap is designed to ensure the security of supply and gas flows within Europe, while contributing to the general objective of reducing gas demand. Capping is a priority. »

” soon ”

Fifteen member states – in addition to Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia – will have to “present a proposal” to the Commission to this effect, which is September 30. Extraordinary powers may be debated in the Council on that day, and may be followed as soon as possible by a legislative proposal.

As a reminder, at their previous extraordinary meeting in Brussels on September 9, energy ministers had already asked the Commission to bring gas prices within a common range, rejecting the idea put forward by Ursula van der Leyen. . On that day, Belgium and Italy made no attempt to rally the majority of member states to their cause. With success, even if the Commission’s reluctance is apparent. “Mainly for fear of affecting security of supply”, comments an expert.

“Invulnerable Inflationary Pressures”

This Tuesday, the administration, through one of its spokesmen, promised to “work on the matter”, but according to a diplomatic source, by the end of the afternoon, no plan had yet been sent to member states. The ambassadors of the twenty-seven meet this Wednesday to prepare the work of the Energy Council – which must formally approve the three measures finalized by the commission: two mechanisms that make it possible to recover tens of billions from producers. Energy, and reducing power consumption. No matter, the Czech President has every intention of adding an item on the gas price cap to the agenda on Friday… expecting a document from the Commission in a few hours.

For their part, the fifteen signatory ministers repeat that the Commission is tasked with examining the gas price cap “from the beginning” (since March, via the European Council). And many states are asking for it, while “the energy crisis has worsened, causing unsustainable inflationary pressures that are hitting households and businesses hard”. According to them, the move will “help governments mitigate inflationary pressures, manage expectations, provide a framework in case of potential supply disruptions and curb abnormal profits in the sector”. It can be supplemented with projects aimed at “strengthening the financial supervision of the gas market and creating alternative references for the formation of gas prices in Europe”.

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