Government leaders have been arguing about this for months. In the coming days, it will again be on the agenda at an EU summit in Brussels. What is on the table and when will the measures take effect? Four questions and answers.

The price of gas has dropped a little, and gas reserves are now well filled. But still energy prices are much higher than usual. Can we avoid having the same problems next year?

EU leaders have been discussing solutions for months, but so far there has been little progress. Today they will meet again at the EU summit in Brussels to discuss the plans. Why it is so complicated and what plans are on the table?

What’s the problem?

It’s the high prices. Even if they have fallen slightly. In recent months, you have seen European countries bid against each other, to fill their own gas stores. The question is how this can be prevented in the future.

There is already talk of a maximum price for gas. Many European countries have made several proposals for this and the group of countries that want it has also grown. But the Netherlands and Germany, for example, are in trouble. Berlin and The Hague consider the intervention in the energy market too large and fear that deliveries will stall. That the liquefied gas will be sold to Asia instead of Europe.

What proposals are discussed?

The European Commission has now launched a number of proposals to break the deadlock. Instead of one maximum price, the commission now comes up with a “temporary, dynamic price limit”. A kind of bandwidth, within which the price then moves. But will that work? Is this working? Does this really have no effect on gas supplies?

The commission is also proposing a new target price for LNG, liquefied gas. But how high exactly, is not yet clear.

On joint procurement, for example that EU countries now purchase 15 percent of their gas together, agreement seems possible. The member states would then be less likely to compete with each other.

What do EU member states think?

The discussion about the maximum price has been stuck for months, so diplomats involved expect difficult talks in a long Brussels night. In the discussion you can also see irritation. Member states in southern Europe and Eastern Europe feel that the Netherlands and Germany are not in sufficient solidarity.

They are accused of blocking a maximum price, but in the meantime they are pulling the purse strings to help their own people get the gas bill down. The Netherlands and Germany are pouring billions into the fight against the energy crisis. The Cabinet allocates an estimated 23.5 billion euros for the national price ceiling, possibly increasing to 40 (!) billion. And in Germany it is about hundreds of billions of euros in the coming years.

When will we notice anything?

That will take a while. The possible measures are mainly intended for next winter. Currently, the gas stores are filled enough, so the likelihood that we will get into the cold this season is very small. But the war in Ukraine is probably far from over, prices remain high, experts expect. They want to prevent us from being in the same situation again in a year’s time.

Over the next two days, it remains to be seen whether the 27 European heads of government can agree on the main direction of the interventions and in what way. It is then up to the climate and energy ministers to further develop those plans. That will certainly take a few weeks.


About the author: Damien Karlström

The editor-in-chief worked for many years as a literary editor in Bern's leading publications. Over time, I decided to become the editor-in-chief. The main direction of materials is international relations and society.

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