EU states disagree on solution to record soaring energy prices

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EU member states disagree with each other over their response to a record hike in energy prices, with the bloc saying it will consider proposals to overhaul the regulations and the way its market electricity is supervised.

Spain, France and Greece are calling for a collective response at the level of the bloc. Madrid suggested that the EU make bulk purchases of gas, in the same way the bloc bought and distributed Covid-19 vaccines. Greece suggested that an EU fund be created to help governments deal with the crisis.

“We asked the [European] Commission to be bold in its response, ”Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said at a summit of EU leaders in Slovenia.

“We are facing an unprecedented crisis which requires extraordinary, innovative and energetic measures from the EU.”

But countries like Germany and the Netherlands have called for caution. They argue that the problems are linked to supply issues caused by Covid-19.

EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson told the European Parliament that the bloc’s executive arm will suggest a range of options next week on how governments and the EU might respond.

“This is mainly something that Member States have to tackle,” said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

“We need to look at what Europe can do collectively. There are proposals – some wilder, others less savage.

If he did not “rule out that more should be done at European level”, this could only come after “an in-depth analysis”.

Meanwhile, right-wing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban blamed the stricter regulations established by the EU’s Green Deal. He said the new EU-wide rules to reduce emissions amounted to “indirect taxation for apartment owners, house owners and car owners”.

“The EU needs to change its policy, because in part, at least in part, the reason why prices are rising is the fault of the Commission,” he said.

This was rejected by Mr Rutte, who said the Hungarian leader “is really exaggerating the issue of energy transition”.

“Orban mixes up a lot of things – the problem of high prices is only to a limited extent related to the transition,” he said.

The European Commission insists its climate plans will lower household bills by reducing exposure to volatile fossil fuel prices – and that if countries fail to cut emissions quickly, they will face significant costs. higher in the form of extreme weather events.

“Let’s keep an eye on the ball. The problem here is the climate crisis, ”said EU climate policy chief Frans Timmermans. “The faster we move towards renewable energy, the faster we can protect our citizens against high prices. “

Update: October 6, 2021, 4:33 p.m.


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