AP

German gas price plan exposes EU divisions over energy

Oct 4, 2022, 10:12 AM | Updated: 10:31 am

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, right, and Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, speak at a...

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, right, and Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, speak at a press conference after the meeting of the German-Dutch Climate Cabinet at the Federal Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022. (Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa via AP)

(Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa via AP)

BRUSSELS (AP) — Germany’s plan to spend billions of euros to help keep gas prices low for its consumers and businesses has received a tepid welcome from fellow European Union members, with some worrying that the measure could exacerbate the energy crisis.

With a recession looming, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said last week that his government would spend up to 200 billion euros (dollars) on the “gas price brake.” Some EU countries think the move by the bloc’s biggest economy should have been coordinated with them. They said they worry it could jack up prices elsewhere.

European economies were already struggling to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, but high inflation and Russia’s war in Ukraine, notably its decision to switch off the gas taps to several EU countries, has given them a fresh battering.

The solution, according to some opponents of Germany’s plan – among them France and Italy – should be more solidarity among EU partners and more use of European Union funds, rather than go-it-alone national efforts.

“If we want to avoid fragmentation, if we want to face this crisis, I think we need a higher level of solidarity, and we need to put in place some further common tools,” Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said at a meeting of EU finance ministers in Luxembourg.

But he was cautious not to point the finger directly at Germany.

Dutch Finance Minister Sigrid Kaag agreed on the need to coordinate the response to the energy crunch among the 27 member countries, but she opposed the creation of any new EU fund to address the challenge.

The EU already has several funds with “billions and billions that are available and could be put to good use in the first instance,” Kaag told reporters. “We need to channel what we have and invest it in the right manner.”

The Dutch government also unveiled details of a planned energy price cap for households Tuesday, together with the outline of a subsidy system aimed at easing the pain for small-to-medium-sized businesses that use a lot of power.

German Finance Minister Christian Lindner, for his part, said “there had been a misunderstanding,” about what he described as “our protective shield.”

“Our measure is targeted,” Lindner told reporters. “We have to change the order of the electricity market, but our package is not unproportionate. In fact, it is proportionate if you compare the size and the vulnerability of the German economy.”

Czech Finance Minister Zybnek Stanjura, who chaired the meeting, conceded that opinions on the best way ahead differ widely. “Different member states have different energy mixes and so they have different ideas about what needs to be done first,” he said.

The issue is likely to get thrashed out yet again at a summit of EU leaders in Prague on Friday, where the war in Ukraine and its economic fallout for Europe are top of the agenda. But the chances of a breakthrough this week appear slim.

“None of us had foreseen this. We do not know how long this situation will last, the longer-term impact on the economy,” Kaag said. “So coming out of corona, we need to act appropriately, without inadvertently fueling inflation. And that’s sort of the tight rope we are walking, or dancing on.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Most Americans are sleepy new Gallup poll finds...

Associated Press

Most Americans say they don’t get enough sleep, according to new Gallup poll

A new Gallup poll found that most Americans are sleepy — or, at least, they say they are. Multiple factors play into this.

1 day ago

Near-total abortion ban in Arizona dates back to Civil War era...

Associated Press

Near-total abortion ban dates back to 1864, during the Civil War, before Arizona was a state

The near-total abortion ban resurrected last week by the Arizona Supreme Court dates to 1864, when settlers were encroaching on tribal lands.

1 day ago

Tracy Toulou...

Associated Press

How to tackle crime in Indian Country? Empower tribal justice, ex-Justice Department official says

A recently retired director of the Justice Dept. says the federal government hasn't given tribal justice systems equal recognition.

2 days ago

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson...

Associated Press

House Speaker Mike Johnson says he will push for aid to Israel and Ukraine this week

House Speaker Mike Johnson said Sunday he will try to advance wartime aid for Israel this week, along with funding for Ukraine.

2 days ago

President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign rally Saturday, March 9, 2024, at Pullman Yards in Atlanta...

Associated Press

US shoots down ‘nearly all’ Iran-launched attack drones as Biden vows support for Israel’s defense

Joe Biden cut short a weekend stay at his beach house to meet with his national security team as Iran launched an attack against Israel.

4 days ago

Protesters in Phoenix shout as they join thousands marching around the Arizona state Capitol after ...

Associated Press

Abortion ruling supercharges Arizona to be an especially important swing state

A ruling this week instituting a near-total abortion ban supercharged Arizona's role, turning it into the most critical battleground.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

German gas price plan exposes EU divisions over energy