On 24 November, EU energy ministers failed to agree a cap on gas prices to mitigate the energy crunch in Europe amid deep divisions over an initial proposal slammed by many as a “joke,” AFP reported. The ministers will now meet in the first half of December, said Czech Industry Minister Jozef Sikela.
The Polish and Spanish energy ministers called the proposal a “joke.”
“It’s absolutely unenforceable, inefficient and out of scope,” Teresa Ribera, Spain’s minister for the ecological transition, said on November 24 morning. “It’s a bad joke.”
Her Maltese counterpart, Miriam Dalli, said the cap, as designed by the European Commission, was “not fit for purpose” and “definitely not dynamic in nature,” according to Euronews.
“The proposed solution is unsatisfactory because it would not help to protect ourselves even against the peak we had in the past,” Lithianian President Gitanas Nausėda said at a news conference in Vilnius.
As long as a “workable proposal” for a European price cap is not on the table, Belgium will not sign any energy agreements, said the country’s Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten at the start of the European Council of Energy Ministers.
According to Euronews, the proposed cap would be automatically activated but only if two key conditions are met:
- If TTF prices reach or surpass €275 per megawatt-hour for at least two weeks.
- If TTF prices are €58 higher than the market reference of liquefied natural gas (LNG) during at least 10 consecutive trading days.
The TTF is the Dutch Title Transfer Facility, Europe’s main hub for gas trade.
The price cap plan “comes with so many conditions attached that it would not even have been activated back in August, when the gas price briefly soared above 300 euros, alarming Europe used to historic prices around 10 percent of that,” according to AFP.
While the European Union hasn’t banned Russian gas, the Kremlin has been turning off the taps in retaliation for sanctions imposed by Brussels in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, AFP says noting that before the all-out war Russian gas supplies accounted for more than 40% of all EU gas imports.