Deal on gas price caps remains elusive as EU summit ends

EU leaders were unable to reach a consensus on capping gas prices at an informal summit on Friday in the Czech capital Prague.


The heads of state and government did, however, agree that the bloc would “continue to stand firmly with Ukraine,” showing support for “identifying new financial sources” to support the country in its war with Russia, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told reporters at a news conference after the meeting.


She said the EU and its 27 members had already allocated in total €19 billion ($18.6 billion) in assistance to the country, adding that the EU would look for new solutions to cover Ukraine’s financial needs.


The leaders also gave the green light for setting up a military training mission for the Ukrainian army, a proposal that EU foreign ministers are expected to officially approve at their next meeting on Oct. 17.


At the same time, the leaders were unable to find common ground on capping gas prices to mitigate the energy crisis unfolding amid the Russia-Ukraine war. They only showed support for setting up joint gas procurement measures by the end of winter to avoid outbidding each other on markets.


Before the meeting, von der Leyen proposed a “roadmap” to the leaders to limit rising energy bills by capping the market price of imported natural gas and reforming the European electricity market.


The leaders discussed a plan on a so-called “corridor for decent prices with reliable partners” on limiting the price of natural gas, as well as another option to “take out the peaks and speculation” from the broader market prices, she said after the summit.


As part of an overall reform of the EU market, they also talked about possibilities to curb or decouple the price of gas used to generate electricity. This came after the demand of 15 EU countries, including Spain, France, and Italy.


Under the current rules, high gas prices have had an inflationary effect on final electricity bills which is based on the price of the last and most expensive energy source and does not reflect the lower costs of renewables or nuclear power.


Von der Leyen promised that the EU executive body would come with more detailed proposals on the subject in the coming weeks.


Referring to Germany’s recently announced €200 billion energy support package that critics have said are against EU competition rules, she said: “We have to keep our single market together and we have to avoid fragmentation.”


“The bloc’s single market has proven to be our single best asset in times of crisis,” she added, underlining that it must be preserved by assuring a level playing field and avoiding “fragmentation and dispersion.”


The European Commission will look into new ways to support European consumers through already existing funds, von der Leyen said.


Source: Anadolu Agency