The first phase of the battle within the EU for the ceiling on natural gas ended with a victory for the alliance of the South, led by Greece.
The Commission’s proposal was deemed unsatisfactory, and the “big guys” retreated in the face of the threat of a veto by Greece, Spain and other countries.
Indicative of the tension that prevails – and while Vladimir Putin threatens the EU with serious consequences if a cap is placed on Russian oil – is that the inadequacy of Von der Leyen’s proposal for a ceiling of 275 euros/MWh was recognized even by the vice president of the Commission, Margaritis Schoinas . Speaking to ERT, Mr. Schinas admitted that the proposal of the European Commission for the ceiling on natural gas is high. In fact, Mr. Schinas pointed out that the negotiation in the Council of Ministers will bring the limit down and that there is now a proposal on the table.
As he characteristically said, “I also say that the threshold on the basis of which a discussion is held is high. It has other conditions beyond the height limit. But why are all these happening? Because a necessary condition for there to be a discussion in the Council of Ministers is that there is a proposal from the Commission and the necessary condition for there to be a proposal from the Commission is that there is a gathering of different opinions around this sensitive issue. So we are starting high because we know that the negotiation in the Council of Ministers will bring the limit down, but at least it is the first time that we have a proposal on the table. Without a high limit there wouldn’t even be a proposal on the table. I understand that these are a bit more complex in European politics than the national political agenda often simplifies. But here we’re talking about an issue that has to do with our suppliers as well, it has to do with whether the existence of the cap will help to have suppliers or will it drive them to other parts of the world? It’s a much more complex equation.”
Schinas: The Commission’s proposal for the gas ceiling is really high – The most difficult moments of my term
Putin threatens Europe with “serious consequences” if a ceiling is placed on the price of Russian oil
Greece’s alliances and the veto threat
It was preceded by an incredible background during the meeting of EU energy ministers on Thursday morning, where Greece managed to build an alliance with the countries of the “South”, against Germany and the countries of the North, and veto in facilitating the licensing of RES and the mechanism, if first there is no agreement on the ceiling on natural gas.
According to information, in the positions of the representatives of the countries Belgium, Bulgaria, Spain and Greece, they spoke first and expressed the position they had agreed earlier, not to give the green light to the facilitation of the licensing of RES and the mechanism.
Finally, they managed to pass the veto, with Energy Commissioner Kadri Simpson seconding it, as, after everyone had spoken, the adoption of today’s regulation to facilitate renewables licensing and the solidarity mechanism was postponed to be adopted simultaneously in the next emergency council of ministers likely to be placed at December 13.
The background before the meeting
According to a top source from the Ministry of Energy who spoke to iefimerida.gr before the start of the meeting, at 8:15 in the morning, the Greek delegation took the initiative to call the representatives of 15 countries in order to find out if the alliance of the “South” can to build a blocking minority and exercise a veto, which was eventually achieved.
And Spain agreed with Greece’s proposal
During the talks between the 15 the surprise came from Spain who agreed with the Greek position. After all Greece, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Poland, Croatia, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania they agreed to go into the council of energy ministers and make it clear that they are not giving political approval today and to block them.
Skrekas from Brussels: A ceiling of 275 euros is not really a ceiling
Putting a ceiling (a ceiling) at 275 euros is not really a ceiling,” stressed the Minister of Environment and Energy, Kostas Skrekas, upon his arrival at the Council of Ministers in Brussels and pointed out that a ceiling between “150 euros and 200 euros is a realistic ceiling.”
Mr. Skrekas added that “the energy crisis is shocking. For households and businesses. That’s why we have to do something. We cannot stand by and do nothing. Soaring prices threaten European households and businesses. We waste valuable time without results. We need to protect European households and Europe’s credibility, and that is what we will try to do in today’s Council.”
Asked what the Commission should have proposed, the Minister of Environment and Energy noted that “a corrective mechanism must be more realistic, because even in August, when we suffered from the skyrocketing natural gas prices, this corrective mechanism could not be applied. Surely he must be different and reasonable. He must be the one to help us lower gas prices. Because right now this is a big issue. The big issue Europe has is that we buy the most expensive natural gas in the world.”
“We have to react as soon as possible. We can’t keep wasting time” said Kostas Skrekas, adding that “the solidarity mechanism must go together and be connected to the correction mechanism”.
The reactions and what will happen from here on
Now, all three issues (RES licensing, the solidarity mechanism and the ceiling) should be passed to the next extraordinary Council of Energy Ministers which will probably take place on December 13.
The Czech EU presidency, for its part, says it is optimistic that there will be an agreement at the new extraordinary meeting. In fact, the Minister of Industry of the Czech Republic even said that “we are not opening the champagne yet, but we are putting the bottle in the fridge”.
For its part, the Netherlands expressed dissatisfaction with the deadlock at the ministerial meeting. Together with Germany, they oppose the imposition of a ceiling, believing that it will lead to the channeling of natural gas to countries outside the Union.
The responsible energy commissioner Kadri Simpson admitted that it was not an easy meeting, but stressed that “the cap and the duration of the intervention mechanism have been set with great care to limit the risks”.
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