Greece along with another fourteen EU member states has called on the European Commission to impose a price cap on gas imports to tackle the energy crisis in Europe.
As soaring energy bills threaten to undermine popular support for governments, the leaders of fifteen member states sent a joint letter to the Commission.
Greece’s PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis made the letter public through Twitter. “Great news in the fight against high energy prices! A majority of fifteen member-states now back the request to the Commission to implement a price cap on natural gas!” he said.
“The price cap…is the one measure that will help every member state to mitigate the inflationary pressure, manage expectations and provide a framework in case of potential supply disruptions, and limit the extra profits in the sector,” the letter addressed to Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson.
“This cap is the priority and should be applied to all wholesale natural gas transactions, and not limited to imports from specific jurisdictions,” the letter stated. “It can be designed in such a way as to ensure security of supply and the free flow of gas within Europe while achieving our shared objective to reduce gas demand.”
The letter further maintained that “this cap is the priority and can be complemented with proposals to strengthen the financial oversight of the gas market and develop alternative benchmarks for gas pricing in Europe.”
“In light of the above, we the undersigned Ministers of Energy call on you to present us with a proposal in this direction to be discussed at the extraordinary Energy Council of 30 September, followed by a legislative proposal as soon as possible,” the letter concluded.
The letter signed by Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain marks the first time the supporters of the gas cap join forces in an on-the-record declaration of intent.
Gas price cap opposed by Germany
The calls for an EU-wide price cap on gas imports have gained traction in recent weeks after the record-breaking prices in August reached an all-time high of €346 per megawatt-hour.
Prices gradually decreased since that peak and currently hover just below the €200 mark, which is almost five times the levels of only a year ago.
However, as Euronews notes, the price cap is strongly opposed by Germany and some other EU countries.
“If you introduce a price cap, as the EU unilaterally, and all the other consumers around the world don’t do it, then the gas will go to other consumers and thus we might have a shortage in gas supplies,” Germany’s Minister of State for Europe and Climate Anna Lührmann said last week.
Norway, which replaced Russia as the EU’s leading gas supplier this year, has said it is open to discussing lower fees but is “skeptical” about a wide ceiling.
Greece calls for an 80-billion-euro fund to tackle gas prices
The European Commission should set up an eighty-billion-euro fund to deal with the fallout from high natural gas prices, Greece’s Environment & Energy Minister Kostas Skrekas proposed to EU officials.
Skrekas made the proposal ahead of the Ministers of Energy Emergency Council on Friday in a letter to Executive Vice-President of the European Commission for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans and Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson.
The minister said the fund would be supported by a special fee of ten euros per thermal MWh that should be imposed on European power producers for the amount of natural gas they use to produce electricity.
The funds would go to support vulnerable households and small and medium-sized enterprises over high natural gas prices, alternative fuel investments, and to cover the emergency needs of producers who are trying to replace Russian natural gas.
The fee would generate nine billion euros annually throughout the EU based on 2021 consumption figures. A low-interest-rate loan of eighty billion euros by the European Investment Bank to start with could be gradually paid off by the annual nine billion euros, according to the proposal.