The EU ministers give the green light to intervene in electricity and gas prices | companies

The long-awaited meeting of energy ministers of the European Union has concluded this afternoon with a general agreement, despite the previous doubts of the great powers of the community. The representatives of the 27 member countries have reached a preliminary four-point agreement, which includes cutting the profits of energy generating companies that do not depend on gas and creating a “solidarity contribution” to oil companies, providing liquidity to energy companies, reducing consumption and limit the price that countries pay for Russian gas.

“It has not been an easy discussion and it is not the last one we are going to have,” said the Czech Minister of Industry, Josef Síkela, who led the meeting since his country chairs the European Council during this semester. Those responsible for Energy they have thus aligned themselves with the plan presented by the European Commission on Wednesday.

The countries have asked Brussels to propose an “urgent and temporary intervention that includes the limitation of the price of gas.” Member states remain divided on what this cap should look like and whether it should apply only to Russian supply. “We need more time to fine-tune how the cap should be applied,” Síkela mentioned in response to the journalists’ question. The European Commissioner for Energy. Kadri Simson did specify that “nothing is off the table” but that security of supply must be guaranteed.

The strongest rejection of this measure came in the morning from Berlin. Economy Minister Robert Habeck has stated that his country did not support the initiative, given that many countries in the community bloc are still dependent on Moscow.

A greater consensus was generated around the need to design instruments that provide liquidity to electricity companies that face market volatility. Minutes before the presentation of Síkela and Simson in Brussels, the president of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde, pointed out that this mechanism is the responsibility of the governments of each country, and not of the institution that she directs. “It is important that fiscal measures be implemented to provide liquidity to solvent participants in the energy market, in particular to public service companies,” Lagarde softened.

The plan presented by Brussels and today endorsed by the ministers also includes directly limiting the demand for electricity by consumers, although in an “intelligent” way. The European Commission seeks to agree on a mandatory 5% reduction in electricity consumption during peak price hours, according to a draft of the plan to which El País had access.

Simson has indeed stated the intention of the Commission to develop a complementary index to regulate the prices of liquefied gas. “The current gas price index, known as the TTF, is linked to a relatively small pipeline-based market that does not reflect the current reality of the European Union,” the commissioner argued.

This Friday’s meeting will not produce instant changes, beyond its impact on the mood of the markets. “I expect the proposal in a few days and I want to have clarity by the end of the month,” Sikela told reporters before the meeting began. A few hours earlier, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo issued an even more dire warning. “A few weeks like this and the European economy will grind to a halt,” he said.

Simson has slipped in the press conference that his team is working on a broader plan to adjust the structure of the European electricity market, which he hopes will be “ready at the beginning of next year”.

The meeting of the representatives of the 27 governments has left room for a moment of complacency. Sikela has not forgotten to highlight that gas reserves have reached 83%, above the community objective. The host of the meeting has tried to qualify this achievement with a warning: “We cannot predict how cold the winter is going to be.”

Ribera: “The situation in Spain is characterized more by concern about prices than by the availability of resources”

The Third Vice President and Minister for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, Teresa Ribera, at the emergency meeting in Brussels.


The Third Vice President and Minister for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, Teresa Ribera, at the emergency meeting in Brussels.

The third vice-president and minister for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, Teresa Ribera, declared during the public hearing that Spain is “in a relatively good position for next winter with the maximum guarantees”.

Ribera has defended the proposal of the European Commission regarding limiting the price of gas, as he had already anticipated this week. The third vice-president also highlighted the need to increase the negotiating power of the European Union in the market, at the same time that she specified the need to rethink the reference that European countries take for the price of gas.

The Spanish representative at the emergency meeting in Brussels has placed particular emphasis on reinforcing the infrastructures to face the winter of 2023-2024. In particular, Ribera has requested to update the infrastructure map that the block needs for next winter. With this message, the Spanish delegation seeks the involvement of its community counterparts to overcome French reluctance to build the MidCat gas pipeline. This is an infrastructure that is not currently considered to be of community interest but is part of the annex of projects that can help respond to the current economic crisis.

For this reason, given France’s refusal to develop this gas pipeline, Spain maintains that at an exceptional moment such as this, it may deserve an in-depth debate that should take place on Friday, following Germany’s request. For La Moncloa, if there are States that consider that “Germany’s demand is not the best or that it has technical or financial problems, it is good that they can raise it with complete peace of mind” at tomorrow’s meeting to seek alternative solutions.

The Government celebrates the “leadership” of Spain in energy policy in the EU

The Government’s spokesperson, Isabel Rodríguez, has celebrated Spain’s “leadership” in energy policy after the European Union has agreed on measures already adopted by the Executive, such as cutting profits for large companies, and has criticized the fact that the PP is “on the sidelines”

EU energy ministers agreed at their extraordinary meeting on Friday to cut electricity consumption and tax the profits of energy companies, among other measures, and to explore the possibility of imposing a maximum price on Russian gas.

“We congratulate ourselves, we celebrate that the position of the vast majority of the member states is the position that the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, and our country have been defending during all this time: capping the price of gas and the extraordinary benefits of energy companies”, the government spokesperson, Isabel Rodríguez, told the media.

In this sense, he has expressed his satisfaction with the “leadership” of Spain in the EU in terms of energy policy, while the PP continues in his opinion “outside what happens” in the European institutions with this type of measure.

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