European Commission opens door to temporary EU gas price cap

European Commission opens door to temporary EU gas price cap
European Commission president Ursula Von der Leyen. Credit: Belga/Nicolas Maeterlinck

The topic has been hotly debated for weeks with 15 EU countries (including Belgium) calling for a general price cap. After dithering on the policy, the European Commission seems to now be willing to introduce a cap, but as a temporary measure.

Despite the majority of the EU Member States pleading for a price cap on gas, Germany and the Commission have held back. Germany was harshly criticised for continuing to block the cap at the EU level while unilaterally implementing such a measure in its own country.

"An overall cap on the price of gas is a temporary solution until we have developed a new European price index which ensures better market functioning," European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen said during a debate on the energy crisis in the Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday.

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Von der Leyen explained how the TTF market, which is crucial to deciding gas prices, unfairly favours (Russian) pipeline gas. A new index that better reflects the increased share of LNG in European gas supplies should therefore be developed.

"The Commission has already started its work on that," she said, adding that a price cap should, in any case, be designed so that European gas supplies are not compromised.

"Putin has been using energy as a weapon, causing economic and social hardship. The measures we have put in place provide us with a buffer of protection," Von der Leyen stated. "Now we will step up to tackle rising energy costs."

Von der Leyen stated that she will give details of her proposals to reform the energy market in a letter to the EU heads of state and government, who will meet for an informal summit in Prague on Friday.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, who has been at the forefront of the push for a price cap at the EU level for weeks now, called Von der Leyen's statements "an important step forward," De Standaard reports. "We have been pushing for some time for an intervention in the gas market to protect our society. Now, it still has to be turned into a concrete measure at the European summit in Prague."

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