The European Union is set to present an emergency package this week that includes a tax on windfall profits for energy companies, but countries are divided on the details and the possibility of imposing a cap on gas prices. .
At a meeting on Friday, energy ministers from EU countries called on the European Commission to come up with measures to take away excess revenue from non-gas power generators, reduce electricity consumption across the EU and help electricity companies that need emergency liquidity.
In an attempt to reduce the energy bill of citizens and companies ahead of winter, the ministers also asked Brussels to propose a limitation on the price of gas, according to the summary of the meeting of the Czech Republic, which holds the presidency of EU turn.
But European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is set to present the bloc’s proposals in a speech on Wednesday, and countries disagree on whether a gas price cap would ease or aggravate Europe’s energy crisis. , according to diplomats.
“On the cost of gas, we continue to work on responses tailored to a global market,” von der Leyen said in a tweet on Saturday.
The proposal should lower prices in Europe “while ensuring security of supply,” she added.
According to diplomats, more than half of the EU member states mentioned the possibility of capping the price of gas at Friday’s meeting, but without reaching a consensus on what form it should take, be it a price cap for all imported gas, pipeline flows, wholesale gas trade or supplies from Russia.
“Most of those who talked about gas price caps disagreed,” an EU diplomat said.
The 27 EU member states will have to approve the energy measures, possibly at another emergency meeting of ministers this month.
Russia supplied about 40% of the EU’s gas before its invasion of Ukraine. That percentage has plummeted to 9% as Moscow has cut supplies to Europe, blaming the cuts on technical problems caused by Western sanctions.
EU ministers ended up refusing to limit the price of Russian gas, something that countries like Hungary and Austria had warned could cause Moscow to cut off the dwindling supplies it still sends to the EU.
Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark are among the countries opposing a blanket cap on gas prices, warning it could jeopardize Europe’s energy security in winter by leaving countries struggling to attract supplies in the competitive world market for liquefied natural gas.
Others, such as Italy and Poland, say capping gas prices would offer relief to households and industrial sectors that have been forced to curb production due to high gas costs.