European Union energy ministers locked horns on Thursday over a proposed gas price cap at 275-euros per megawatt hour (MWh), grappling over its effectiveness at that level and the impact on supplies and incentives to cut consumption.
The long-standing disagreements were holding up other policies to alleviate the acute energy crisis, such as the launch of joint EU gas purchases and a quicker permit process for renewables.
Diplomats said the 27 EU countries agreed on these two in principle but delayed formal approval until another meeting called for Dec 13, with proponents of a cap demanding a green light for all three proposals or none at all.
Polish Climate Minister Anna Moskwa called the 275-euro blueprint put forward by the European Commission “a joke”.
Belgium’s Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten also chimed in, telling reporters: “The text that is on the table is unsatisfactory (…) it doesn’t clearly say if it will have an effect on prices.”
Their Greek counterpart, Konstantinos Skrekas said a cap of 150-200 euros/MWh would be realistic.
“It could help us reduce gas prices and therefore reduce electricity prices, which is a major challenge in Europe this winter,” he said.
Malta was also unhappy with the proposed ceiling. Energy Minister Miriam Dalli said the strict conditions needed for the mechanism to kick in made it “next to impossible”.
As many as 15 EU states want a set limit to contain energy costs after gas prices soared to record highs last August, driven up by Russia cutting supplies to Europe in the wake of Western sanctions over Moscow’s war against Ukraine.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 25th, 2022.
Originally published at tribune.com.pk