EU ministers delay for a month decision on more energy unity

Oct 25, 2022, 2:34 AM | Updated: 9:27 am
FILE - From left, Romania's President Klaus Werner Ioannis, Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Europ...

FILE - From left, Romania's President Klaus Werner Ioannis, Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz, European Council President Charles Michel, Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, France's President Emmanuel Macron, Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and Latvia's Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins during a round table meeting at an EU summit in Brussels, Friday, Oct. 21, 2022. European Union energy ministers on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2022 started seeking some common ground to flesh out the barest of tentative agreements that their leaders could find last week to soften the blow of the energy crisis for their citizens while maintaining a united front in the face of Russian President Vladimir Putin. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert, Pool)

(AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert, Pool)

BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union nations on Tuesday gave themselves yet another month to overcome deep differences on groundbreaking measures to shield their citizens from the energy crisis. Such initiatives are also necessary for the bloc to maintain a united front during Russia’s war in Ukraine.

With winter approaching, home energy bills piling up and some businesses teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, there is a popular outcry for the 27-nation bloc to move much faster, especially after last week’s EU summit claimed to have a sense of common purpose to agree on measures. EU nations have seen such a crisis coming straight at them almost from the day Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Yet, at the end of EU meeting of energy ministers, the most palpable decision was to task the executive Commission to prepare proposals ready for decision at a Nov. 24 emergency meeting.

“The Commission was given some extra homework,” said Dutch Energy Minister Rob Jetten.

With the onset of winter close, “a number of nations called for speed in developing the measures,” Jetten said. But because fluctuating global energy markets and different energy mixes among member states — ranging from nuclear to natural gas and other fossil fuels — make smart, lightning-quick decisions wickedly difficult, “many countries, including the Netherlands, want to see a better impact analysis.”

Germany too had similar warnings.

So even after last week’s draining summit and Tuesday’s meeting, the same sense of indecision remained.

Even if no technical decision were made, meeting chair Jozef Sikela, the Czech Deputy Prime Minister, said there was general consensus that member states should focus on the joint purchase of gas to avoid outbidding each other on in increasingly overheated market, and take measures to ensure short spikes driven by speculators will no longer unbalance markets.

“Europe has great market power,” Germany Energy Minister Robert Habeck said. “When the big players can get to an agreement … or are allowed to purchase together, then Europe’s market power will show.”

A fuller price cap on gas and a “correction mechanism” in the market however, which has been at the center of the rift among member nations, remained out of reach. “As you can imagine, we have rather different views on the mechanism,” the Czech Republic’s Sikela said.

Countries like Germany and the Netherlands want to be sure that suppliers will not simply bypass the EU if they don’t like the capped price on offer.

“The main question is how to make sure that capping will still allow us to buy the gas we need on the market,” Sikela said.

Key will be to decide what targeted steps would actually help to keep businesses running and households warm over the coming months.

As a result of trade disruptions tied to Russia’s war in Ukraine, EU nations have reduced the overall share of Russian natural gas imports to the EU from 40% before the invasion to around 7%. And gas storage has already far exceeded targets and stands at some 95% of capacity ahead of the winter heating season.

The EU has relied on increased imports of liquefied natural gas, or LNG, including from the United States, to help address the fall in Russian supplies. The bloc will need LNG shipments even more in winter 2023 to refill storages that still include Russian gas this year.

Along with mild weather so far and their commitment in principle last week to stand united, EU leaders said the efforts have helped drive down prices for gas from record summer highs.

Natural gas prices on the European benchmark TTF have been steadily dropping, falling to their lowest level since mid-June this week. Gas was trading at 96.51 euros per megawatt-hour late Tuesday, a far cry from the peak of 349.90 euros per megawatt-hour on Aug. 26.

The general question hanging over the frantic EU deliberations is whether any regulatory changes meant to curb gas prices would ultimately be self-defeating by encouraging consumption of the fuel. EU governments have already agreed to reduce demand for gas by 15% between this past August and March 2023.

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


              FILE - The sun sets behind the cole-fired power plant 'Scholven' of the Uniper energy company in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022. European Union energy ministers on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2022 started seeking some common ground to flesh out the barest of tentative agreements that their leaders could find last week to soften the blow of the energy crisis for their citizens while maintaining a united front in the face of Russian President Vladimir Putin. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, File)
            
              FILE - A worker makes pastries at Babushka Artisanal Bakery in Budapest, Hungary, Friday, Sept. 9, 2022. European Union energy ministers on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2022 started seeking some common ground to flesh out the barest of tentative agreements that their leaders could find last week to soften the blow of the energy crisis for their citizens while maintaining a united front in the face of Russian President Vladimir Putin. (AP Photo/Anna Szilagyi, File)
            
              FILE - High voltage lines near the Cattenom Nuclear Power Plant in Cattenom, eastern France, Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022. European Union energy ministers on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2022 started seeking some common ground to flesh out the barest of tentative agreements that their leaders could find last week to soften the blow of the energy crisis for their citizens while maintaining a united front in the face of Russian President Vladimir Putin. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias, File)
            
              FILE - Baker Engelbert Schlechtrimen poses for a photo in the factory room of his bakery in Cologne, Germany, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022. European Union energy ministers on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2022 started seeking some common ground to flesh out the barest of tentative agreements that their leaders could find last week to soften the blow of the energy crisis for their citizens while maintaining a united front in the face of Russian President Vladimir Putin. (AP Photo/Daniel Niemann, File)
            
              FILE - From left, Romania's President Klaus Werner Ioannis, Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz, European Council President Charles Michel, Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, France's President Emmanuel Macron, Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and Latvia's Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins during a round table meeting at an EU summit in Brussels, Friday, Oct. 21, 2022. European Union energy ministers on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2022 started seeking some common ground to flesh out the barest of tentative agreements that their leaders could find last week to soften the blow of the energy crisis for their citizens while maintaining a united front in the face of Russian President Vladimir Putin. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert, Pool)

AP

Brendan Fraser poses for a portrait in Los Angeles on Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, to promote his film "T...
Associated Press

Brendan Fraser is back. But to him, ‘I was never far away’

NEW YORK (AP) — In a darkened hotel room in New York’s Soho neighborhood, Brendan Fraser kindly greets a reporter with an open plastic bag in his hand. “Would you like a gummy bear?” Fraser, the 54-year-old actor, is in many ways an extremely familiar face to encounter. Here is the once ubiquitous ’90s presence […]
8 hours ago
FILE - Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev poses for a picture during an interview on July 28, 2021, in New Yo...
Associated Press

Robinhood takes on retirement in search for more growth

NEW YORK (AP) — Robinhood, the company that blazed onto Wall Street after turning millions of novices into investors by making trading fun, is now setting its sights on a more staid corner of the industry: saving for retirement. The company on Tuesday is initiating signups for a retirement program, where customers can sock savings […]
8 hours ago
FILE - Facebook's Meta logo sign is seen at the company headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., on, Oct...
Associated Press

Meta oversight board urges changes to VIP moderation system

LONDON (AP) — Facebook parent Meta’s quasi-independent oversight board said Tuesday that an internal system that exempted high-profile users, including former U.S. President Donald Trump, from some or all of its content moderation rules needs a major overhaul. The report by the Oversight Board, which was more than a year in the making, said the […]
8 hours ago
Associated Press

Pope tightens oversight of Vatican-linked foundations

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis on Tuesday tightened control and oversight over Vatican-based foundations and associations in his latest effort to impose international standards of accounting and governance on Vatican offices and affiliated entities. A new law aims to bring the Holy See into further compliance with recommendations from the Council of Europe’s Moneyval […]
8 hours ago
FILE - Workers set up the Montreal Convention Centre in preparation for the COP15 U.N. conference o...
Associated Press

Governments gather in Canada in bid to boost biodiversity

BOSTON (AP) — Amid warnings that biodiversity is in freefall, environmental leaders will gather in Montreal to hammer out measures aimed at shoring up the world’s land and marine ecosystems and coming up with tens of billions of dollars to fund these conservation efforts. Delegates from about 190 countries will assemble for nearly two weeks, […]
8 hours ago
FILE -  Kirstie Alley attends the premiere of HBO's "Girls" on Jan. 5, 2015, in New York.  Alley, a...
Associated Press

Kirstie Alley, Emmy-winning ‘Cheers’ star, dies at 71

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kirstie Alley, a two-time Emmy winner whose roles on the TV megahit “Cheers” and in the “Look Who’s Talking” films made her one of the biggest stars in American comedy in the late 1980s and early 1990s, died Monday. She was 71. Alley died of cancer that was only recently discovered, […]
8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
EU ministers delay for a month decision on more energy unity