“The situation is exceptional”: EU countries are considering joint gas purchases

“Location is exceptional”
EU countries are considering joint gas purchases

The member states of the EU are working together to get the rising energy prices under control. The Commission is proposing several measures, including a joint gas purchase. But first she wants to get an overview of certain effects.

In view of the sharp rise in energy prices, the EU Commission wants to examine whether the states could buy gas together. The Commission said in Brussels that it would be investigated whether such an approach would bring benefits to the countries. “The current situation is extraordinary, but the internal energy market has benefited us for 20 years,” said Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson.

The reactions of the states to the high prices so far are in line with EU law, she added. 20 countries have responded, among other things, with tax cuts or aid for the poor. In Germany, the high energy prices meet the talks on the formation of a government and the efforts to achieve the climate protection goals. Among other things, the price on CO2 emissions makes fossil fuels more expensive.

The EU Commission has proposed numerous further measures to the member states to counter the significantly higher energy prices. Simson said the states could issue vouchers to low-income households or continue to lower tax rates in a targeted manner. State aid and targeted tax cuts are also possible for companies. This could be financially supported by the increased revenues of the European emissions trading.

Another EU summit planned

The role of consumers in the energy market can be strengthened by encouraging them to choose and switch providers, produce their own electricity or join energy communities, Simson said. However, she stressed that the individual Member States do not “have exactly the same energy mix or identical social situations. Therefore, the actions of the Member States must also be specific”.

In the medium term, the EU Commission will increase investments in renewable energies and energy efficiency, announced Simson. In addition, the member states would have to develop energy storage capacities. The EU heads of state and government want to discuss longer-term solutions at their next summit on October 21 and 22. Last week, several euro countries called for a joint approach.

The reasons for the high prices are, on the one hand, the economic recovery of the states after the Corona crisis. The past, comparatively harsh winter also contributed, as the gas storage tanks are not as full as usual. There are also voices who hold Russia jointly responsible because it hardly supplies any additional natural gas. Among the Greens in Germany, for example, this feeds the suspicion that the country is trying to put pressure on the controversial Nordstream 2 gas pipeline to go into operation quickly. The Russian government declared again that they would deliver the maximum according to the existing contracts. More is only possible after negotiating new agreements.

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