21st Sep 2023

EU to discuss gas-price cap, as Russia keeps pipe shut

  • Russian state firm Gazprom operates Nord Stream 1 (Photo:
Listen to article

EU countries are to discuss imposing a gas-price cap, as strained markets reopen this week to news that Russia's pipeline to Germany will stay shut.

Energy ministers meeting in Brussels on Friday (9 September) will consider caps on imported gas and on gas used for electricity production, according to a Czech EU presidency document seen by Reuters.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

They will also discuss the creation of a "pan-European credit line support" for EU energy firms struggling to cope with market volatility.

The emergency talks come after Russia, on Friday, said its Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany would remain closed indefinitely for maintenance.

Trading firms predicted the move would drive prices, which are already four times normal levels, even higher when markets reopened on Monday.

"We are not afraid of [Russian president Vladimir] Putin's decisions. We ask them to respect their contracts but if they don't we are ready to react," EU economic affairs commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said at a business fair in Italy on Saturday.

But Russia's gas cut-offs, widely seen as retaliation at EU sanctions over Ukraine, are already making a political as well as a financial impact in Europe.

Some 70,000 far-right and far-left supporters protested against EU arms for Ukraine in Prague on Sunday at a 'Czech Republic First' rally.

They called for a new gas deal with Russia and some wore pro-Putin T-shirts, Czech media reports.

"It is clear that Russian propaganda and disinformation campaigns are present on our territory and some people simply listen to them," Czech prime minister Petr Fiala said.

Russia "is trying to attack with poverty and political chaos where it cannot yet attack with missiles," Ukrainian president Volodomyr Zelensky also said on Saturday on Russia's energy warfare.

For his part, the EU Council president, Charles Michel, will visit Qatar on Tuesday amid hopes of boosting supplies from the top exporter.

But at the same time as mulling EU-level measures, some member states are taking unilateral action to stave off a potential energy crisis.

German chancellor Olaf Scholz unveiled a €65 billion fund on Sunday to help private households and companies get through the winter period of peak consumption.

"Russia is no longer a reliable energy partner," Scholz told press in Berlin.

And the socialist leader promised a crackdown on profiteering by giant energy producers.

"There are excess profits by some producers who can simply take advantage of the situation that the very expensive price of gas determines the price of electricity, and that therefore make a lot of money," he said.

"We are firmly determined to change the market rules in such a way that such windfall profits no longer occur".

Finland and Sweden said they were earmarking tens of billions of euros to protect vulnerable utility-providing companies from insolvency.

"If we do not act, there is a serious risk of disruptions in the financial system, which in the worst case could lead to a financial crisis," Swedish prime minister Magdalena Andersson said in Stockholm on Saturday, according to Reuters.

The Group of 7 industrialised nations — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the US — also agreed a cap on Russian oil prices last week.

"I'm sure that countries like Australia and South Korea could be interested in joining this coalition," the EU's Gentiloni said.

Russia blames Western sanctions for EU gas supply problems

Moscow said Western sanctions are causing the problems preventing the restoration of gas flows via the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, as energy prices soared in response to Russia's decision to keep the pipeline closed, following an apparent oil leak.

EU energy ministers' meeting ends with 'no decision made'

EU energy ministers met for an extraordinary council meeting to discuss a unified European response to the energy crisis — but no decision was reached, with negotiations likely continuing until the end of September.

EU’s €500m gender violence plan falls short, say auditors

The 'Spotlight Initiative' was launched in 2017 with a budget of €500 million to end all forms of violence or harmful practices against women and girls in partner countries, but so far it has had "little impact", say EU auditors.

Latest News

  1. Report: Tax richest 0.5%, raise €213bn for EU coffers
  2. EU aid for Africa risks violating spending rules, Oxfam says
  3. Activists push €40bn fossil subsidies into Dutch-election spotlight
  4. Europe must Trump-proof its Ukraine arms supplies
  5. Antifascism and fascism are opposites, whatever elites say
  6. MEPs back Germany's Buch to lead ECB supervisory arm
  7. Russia to blame for Azerbaijan attack, EU says
  8. Fresh dispute may delay EU-wide migration reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Medical Devices Regulators Forum (IMDRF)Join regulators, industry & healthcare experts at the 24th IMDRF session, September 25-26, Berlin. Register by 20 Sept to join in person or online.
  2. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  3. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA
  4. International Medical Devices Regulators Forum (IMDRF)Join regulators & industry experts at the 24th IMDRF session- Berlin September 25-26. Register early for discounted hotel rates
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal interest in the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations – here are the speakers for the launch
  6. Nordic Council of Ministers20 June: Launch of the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  2. ICLEISeven actionable measures to make food procurement in Europe more sustainable
  3. World BankWorld Bank Report Highlights Role of Human Development for a Successful Green Transition in Europe
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic summit to step up the fight against food loss and waste
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThink-tank: Strengthen co-operation around tech giants’ influence in the Nordics
  6. EFBWWEFBWW calls for the EC to stop exploitation in subcontracting chains

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us