The European energy ministers will meet again on 24 November for a meeting on their approach to the energy crisis, but will then want to negotiate until they have an exhausted agreement. That is the conclusion of their discussion in Luxembourg on Tuesday.

The energy ministers discussed the Commission’s proposal for a number of emergency measures to address the crisis. The joint purchase of gas, the imposition of a ceiling on the price of gas – including through a market correction mechanism and a corridor – and the anchoring of solidarity between member states are central to this. At the European summit, the heads of state and government indicated the direction for further discussion.

The fact that no agreement could be reached at the meeting on Tuesday is because the proposal has not yet been technically worked out. “Everyone is chattering all the time, which is exactly why a concrete proposal must be made,” said Belgian Energy minister Tinne Van der Straeten afterwards. “Nobody disagrees with the safeguard clauses for the temporary market correction mechanism proposed by the commission, but the question is how all that should look in concrete terms.”

“We need a proposal to take our discussion to the next level,” Czech minister and president Jozef Sikela said. He said member states had already asked for this in September, during an emergency meeting of energy ministers.

European Commissioner for energy Kadri Simson confirmed that she is now starting the technical elaboration of her package proposed last week – the commission was already talking about a two – step approach-and that it should allow for an agreement on 24 november.

Van der Straeten noted that the fact that gas prices have fallen provides some comfort. “Of course, it is easier to design such measures in the lurch than when prices peak, but it is short-sighted to say that we are now ‘off the hook’.”Sikela also said several times that the crisis in the wholesale market is not behind us.

Here and there, the timing of the European Commission to come up with a non-paper late Monday evening on the rollout of the so-called Iberian model to all of Europe was looked at somewhat strangely. The bottom line is that the price of gas used for the production of electricity is capped through subsidies, as Spain and Portugal are currently doing. France is strongly in favour of it, but several other countries fear that they would de facto subsidise each other’s electricity consumption – and that of third countries such as the UK and Switzerland.

”It is clear that the Commission and some member states do not see the Iberian model as the path to follow, but we need a concrete proposal or an impact study – which the leaders have also asked for, ” Sikela said.

“You saw today that a number of countries really want to speed up the development of these measures, but on the other hand, many more countries want to see a better impact analysis,” Dutch minister Rob Jetten summed up the discussion. “We are concerned about the security of supply for Europe and want this type of measure to be accompanied by a more binding demand reduction. That is the best way to reduce the pressure on the gas market.”

Minister Van der Straeten admitted that there is still some distance between Belgium and the other countries that are pushing for a price ceiling on the one hand, and countries like the Netherlands that insist on the need for a thorough cost-benefit analysis. “But that distance can only be bridged if there is a concrete proposal. We’ve done enough rounds.”

About the author: Louise Roth

Louise Roth is the youngest member of WeeklyNewsReview team. Despite the young age Louise is interested in serious topics. Her main interests and education is all about economics and politics. But in our team she is the most productive do-it-all member, so she has to write on a variety of topics.

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