Energy Transition Minister Agnès Pannier-Runache at a press conference before the Council of European Energy Ministers in Brussels, November 24, 2022

It is clear that the issue of limiting the price of gas poisons the lives of Europeans. For a year now, and even more so since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, heads of state and government have been talking about this for hours during their meetings. The Commission services also lost several nights there. And when, finally, the leader of the community makes a proposal, it causes such discontent that “twenty-seven” take hostage other texts, which, nevertheless, would be very useful to them in these times of galloping inflation and economic crisis.

During the meeting of the Council of European Energy Ministers on Thursday, November 24, they decided not to pass two emergency legislative proposals that were supposed to come into force as soon as the green light was given to twenty-seven that were on the order of the day and which, nevertheless are subject to compromise.

The first is to allow faster permitting in the renewable energy sector. The second stipulates that the Europeans should adopt a new gas price index more reflective of the reality of the market, so that they buy gas together and that if one of them runs out, he can be sure that his partners send it.

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“We will not resume negotiations on these two texts”says Josef Sikela, Minister of Industry of the Czech Republic, whose country holds rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU). “Deal” there is, he continued, but he will “sealed” when it will be “consensus” out of twenty-seven on limiting gas prices. “We don’t open a bottle of champagne yet, but put it in the refrigerator”he concluded.

Mandatory completion

Although energy prices have risen sharply since February 24, these measures are part of the tools that the Europeans have identified to bring them down, just like the 15% reduction in gas consumption they have already begun, the negotiations they are having with Norway or the United States. in order not to pay a high price for the gas bought from them, and even the forced replenishment of their gas reserves.

If Europeans find them useful for keeping inflation in check for a few months, then most of them argue that they are accompanied by a device that can make itself felt faster. They see factories closing instead of paying their energy bills or even investing in other places where energy is cheaper. In this context, about fifteen member states, including France, Italy, Poland and Belgium, demanded in September to limit gas prices. Faced with the inertia of the hostile Commission, some of them have threatened in recent days to block any progress on other energy issues.

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