European Union debate on energy crisis: Southern European countries called for energy price caps, Germany and other countries opposed

2022-05-05 0 By

European Union leaders spent the night debating how to deal with rising energy prices in Brussels, Belgium, but failed to come up with a unified response.The European Union is divided over whether to let governments intervene in energy markets, with some southern European countries wanting to cap energy prices, opposed by Germany and others.Oil and gas prices in the European Union have soared since the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, increasing pressure on the government.In Spain, truck drivers have been on strike for more than ten days in protest at rising fuel prices.At the European Union summit held on July 25, Southern European countries including Spain demanded a price cap on energy, but Germany and the Netherlands strongly opposed it.At one point, The Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez walked out of the meeting in anger.Alexandre De Crowe, Belgium’s prime minister, backed government intervention in the energy market: “Today [the issue] is about People’s Daily lives, the electricity and gas bills that people have in their hands…We are in extraordinary times and we need extraordinary measures.”Countries that support price caps want to ease the squeeze on poor households, while opponents say they will lead to public subsidies for fossil-fuel generation.By the evening of The 25th, no agreement had been reached.The leaders asked the European Commission to urgently assess short-term measures such as energy caps or rebates that could help reduce gas and electricity prices.Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi told reporters after the meeting that the EU executive would discuss measures with big suppliers of oil and electricity.”We expect to have some proposals by May.”Spain and Portugal yesterday won special eu permission to take temporary measures to curb electricity price rises.European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said this was due to the relative independence of the Iberian countries from the EU’s regional energy network, plus the relatively high proportion of renewable energy in their energy mix.Eu member states are highly dependent on Russian energy.The EU is divided over whether to ban Russian energy imports, with Germany, Hungary and Austria in particular cautious.The European Union is seeking to cut Russian gas use by two-thirds this year by finding new sellers and developing renewable energy to reduce its dependence on Russia, Reuters reported.The European Commission intends to make a joint purchase of gas for member states, following the pattern of previous joint procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.But some EU member states are already looking for new energy suppliers.In response, French President Emmanuel Macron warned that “this is not the best solution and will only drive up prices.”The EU has also failed to form a unified position on Russia’s demand to settle energy in roubles.According to Reuters, Russia’s demands pose a dilemma for eu members dependent on Russian energy: Agreeing to pay in rubles would boost the ruble and send Russia hard euros;Refusal could mean power cuts.(Original title Excites debate on energy crisis, EU finds no quick fix)