BRUSSELS – The European Union’s top leader said on Friday that the bloc’s electricity market “didn’t work” amid the war in Ukraine, and proposed a price cap on the Russian gas pipeline.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine as the root of the energy crisis and the dramatic rise in gas and electricity prices .
She said Europe’s priority was to save energy as reserves are scarce, although the 27-nation bloc has already met its target of filling gas storage to 80% capacity before the winter months. The target date was November 1.
“We imagined it would take two more months,” she said in a speech in the German town of Murnau. “We have worked hard to end our dependence on Russian gas, turning instead to other suppliers. As a result, Norway now delivers more gas to Europe than Russia. In addition, the United States supplies Europe with considerable volumes of liquid gas.
Natural gas is used to power industry, heat homes and offices, and generate electricity.
Earlier this week, Russia’s Gazprom cut off the flow of natural gas through a major gas pipeline linking Russia to Europe, citing maintenance concerns. The company said the shutdown is expected to last three days.
Gazprom began cutting supplies through Nord Stream 1 in mid-June and Russia cut gas supplies to several European countries that sided with Ukraine in the war.
“We see that the electricity market no longer works because it is seriously disrupted by Putin’s manipulation,” von der Leyen said ahead of a meeting next week in Brussels of EU energy ministers. The European Commission is also expected to present a package of detailed measures later this month.
To deal with the price crisis, von der Leyen said she strongly believes that “now is the time to cap the prices of Russian pipeline gas exported to Europe” and proposed to decouple electricity from gas price.
Even before Russia started its war against Ukraine, many EU member states had called for deep and structural reform of the bloc’s energy market because they believed that the influence of gas in the wholesale electricity pricing was disproportionate.
“Of course, we will also talk about the need to look at the design of the electricity market in the medium term, i.e. to decouple, for example, the gas price from the general electricity pricing and – the most important issue today, tomorrow and beyond – massive investments in renewable energy,” von der Leyen said.
As energy bills soar, the EU chief executive has also proposed that part of the windfall profits made by power producers be used to support “low-income people and businesses vulnerable in these times of expensive electricity”.
Follow AP coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
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