| 29 May 2024, Wednesday |

EU leaders agree to combat rising energy prices

European Union leaders “agreed to work on measures” that would combat rising energy prices, said European Council President Charles Michel early Friday

The 27 leaders of EU nations had gathered at a two-day summit in Brussels aimed at overcoming differences between countries to combat the continent’s energy crisis.

The meeting dragged on into Friday morning as divisions between some countries could not be bridged. A consensus was not reached on capping the price of gas.

Nevertheless, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the summit established a “solid roadmap to keep on working on the topic of energy prices.”
At least 15 of the 27 countries at the summit pushed for a joint price cap on gas to reign in the cost of living

Germany and its traditional partner France were on opposing sides of the gas price cap debate, with Berlin advocating to hold off on such a measure over fear it could see gas supplies diverted to Asian markets and reduce incentives to save energy.

“We brought ourselves together,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said after the discussion.

“We have named precise parameters that energy ministers can use to work out the concrete details unanimously,” Scholz said, adding that EU leaders could meet again if energy ministers, who are due to meet in Luxembourg on Tuesday, cannot reach an agreement.

Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron said, “Our role is to make sure that there is a European unity and that Germany is part of it.”

“It is not good either for Germany or Europe that it isolates itself,” he added ahead of the summit. “It is important that on proposals that are the subject of a broad consensus, we can find unanimity.”
Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orban said on Friday that the proposed price cap, if sealed, would not apply to long-term gas supply deals like the 15-year deal that Hungary has with Russia’s Gazprom.

Orban wrote on his Facebook page, “We got an exemption from the gas price cap so that will not jeopardize Hungary’s security of gas supply.”

He also said that even if there is a joint gas procurement in Europe “that will not be mandatory for Hungary.”
So great were some of the divisions between leaders at the summit that agreeing to further discuss an energy plan was touted as an achievement in itself.

For the time being, the European Commission has proposed that countries pool their gas purchases, and also offered a compromise that would allow for a price correction mechanism to kick in in exceptional circumstances.

“There is a lot of work ahead,” said Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. “We are pushing ourselves into uncharted territory, where we don’t have experience yet.”

  • DW