Thursday

29th Sep 2022

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

  • Russian state firm Gazprom operates Nord Stream 1 (Photo: gazprom.com)
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.

Column

EU should admonish less, and listen more, to the Global South

Whether on Russia, or gas, or climate change, or food security, the EU's constant finger-wagging and moralising is becoming unbearably repetitive and self-defeating. Most countries in the Global South view it as eurocentric and neo-colonial.

News in Brief

  1. EU takes Malta to court over golden passports
  2. EU to ban Russian products worth €7bn a year more
  3. Denmark: CIA did not warn of Nord Stream attack
  4. Drone sightings in the North Sea 'occurred over months'
  5. Gazprom threatens to cut gas deliveries to Europe via Ukraine
  6. New compromise over EU energy emergency measures
  7. 15 states push for EU-wide gas price cap
  8. EU: Nord Stream explosions 'result of a deliberate act'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The European Association for Storage of EnergyRegister for the Energy Storage Global Conference, held in Brussels on 11-13 Oct.
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  3. European Committee of the RegionsThe 20th edition of EURegionsWeek is ready to take off. Save your spot in Brussels.
  4. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries

Latest News

  1. Everything you need to know about the EU gas price cap plan
  2. Why northeast Italy traded in League for Brothers of Italy
  3. How US tech giants play EU states off against each other
  4. Deregulation of new GMO crops: science or business?
  5. The European shipping giants plying Putin's fossil-fuels trade
  6. Russian ideologue and caviar on latest EU blacklist
  7. Netherlands tops EU social safety net for the poor
  8. New EU rules to make companies liable for their AI failures

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us