EU leaders avoid deep rift on gas price cap at energy summit



European Union leaders struggled to seek out instant sensible options on learn how to cope with an energy disaster however averted an open rift between Germany and France on Friday that might have uncovered a divided bloc because it confronts Russian President Vladimir Putin over his warfare in Ukraine.

After daylong talks in Brussels dragged properly into early Friday, the 27 EU leaders papered over divisions between a few of the greatest member states and at least agreed to proceed working on methods to impose a pure gas price cap in case of volatility.

French President Emmanuel Macron highlighted his work with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to create a veneer of unity. He mentioned that along with shut technical advisers, “I’ll see Chancellor Scholz in Paris subsequent week in order that we will transfer ahead, with our groups, on all the problems.”

Scholz mentioned the primary concern was curbing “spikes” in gas buying and selling which will final just a few hours however nonetheless ship costs excessively upward. He mentioned measures to counter that needs to be additional examined however insisted his skepticism a few flat-out price cap, as some have pushed for, has not modified.

“We do not assume that in a worldwide market we will say unilaterally the place the price needs to be,” he mentioned. “The solely factor we will do is to battle in opposition to speculation available in the market, which is giving unsuitable details about the actual costs. And so that is about spikes, about these episodes of extreme gas costs.”

When the axis between Paris and Berlin is aligned, often the remainder of the EU follows. By Friday afternoon, Macron and others have been glad to level to the gas market response to the information, with costs down about 11% on the day after rising 13% Thursday, when the result of the summit was very a lot doubtful.

“Our problem was to … decrease gas and electrical energy costs and stay united. To me, each objectives have been met. I can cite as an proof the markets’ response after our announcement,” Macron mentioned.

Gas costs, nonetheless, have steadily fallen since August’s file highs, when EU member states sought to outbid one another to refill nationwide reserves. Just this week, they fell almost 10% on Monday and greater than 11% on Tuesday.

Diplomats mentioned the execution of the proposals, together with the potential for a price cap, needs to be first correctly assessed by energy ministers subsequent Tuesday and would possibly even want a brand new summit of leaders within the coming weeks.

“There is a variety of work forward,” Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo mentioned. “We are pushing ourselves into uncharted territory, the place we do not have expertise but.”

To be certain the runaway value of gas would not additional tank struggling EU economies, the European Commission, the EU’s govt arm, has proposed a system to partially pool gas purchases, which acquired a variety of help, and supplied a compromise that might enable for a price cap correction mechanism to kick in in distinctive circumstances.

Countries just like the Netherlands and Germany have been detest to start out such market intervention however agreed to review a system that might be failproof and never enable suppliers to cease delivering and go to extra profitable markets.

“It is extremely complicated, however you see that everybody desires to get the gas prize additional down, however in a means that we proceed to get gas deliveries and that it would not transfer to Asia or Latin America. We want it right here, too,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte mentioned.

The conventional driving duo of the EU — Germany and France — have been in opposing camps, with Germany expressing doubts and holding off plans for the price cap, whereas most others wish to push on.

Scholz mentioned any dispute was on the tactic, not the purpose. “Prices for gas, for oil, for coal, should sink; electrical energy costs should sink, and that is one thing that requires a joint effort by all of us in Europe,” he mentioned.

EU international locations have already agreed to chop demand for gas by 15% over the winter. Plus, European gas storage amenities are already greater than 92% full, beating the dedication to succeed in at least 80% of capability by November. Countries additionally vowed to cut back peak demand for electrical energy by at least 5% as a means of curbing gas-fired energy technology.

The query of attainable EU gas-price caps has moved steadily up the political agenda for months because the energy squeeze tightened, with 15 international locations similar to France and Italy pushing for such blunt intervention.


Associated Press writers Lorne Cook in Brussels, Geir Moulson in Berlin and Sylvie Corbet in Paris contributed to this report


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