Heads of government: no decision yet on EU brake on higher energy price

The heads of state and government of the 27 EU countries are not yet in agreement on what the European Union can do about high energy prices. This became apparent after their summit in Brussels, where they talked about the peak in energy prices for about five hours.

The heads of government have asked the European Commission to conduct a number of investigations, including into the possible causes of the price increases, and also into possibilities for joint purchasing. Next Tuesday, European energy ministers will, in turn, discuss the spike in energy prices. The heads of government will discuss the issue again at their summit in December.

The heads of government are asking the European Commission and the European financial watchdog ESMA to thoroughly study the functioning of the gas and electricity markets and the trade in CO2 emission rights. "Then the Commission should assess whether certain trading behavior requires further regulatory action," it reads.

The measures that the EU countries may take should not come at the expense of the transition to renewable energy sources, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

In the short term, it is the EU countries themselves that can best take measures to reduce energy bills for households and businesses, for example through temporary tax relief. iedereen agreed on that. Opinions differ about the longer term.

Countries such as Germany insist on proper market functioning, while Spain advocates structural measures at European level to keep the gas price under control. This includes collective purchasing, or joint stocks.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis and his Hungarian colleague Viktor Orban had made a point of CO2 rights. Countries such as the Czech Republic and Poland want to keep their coal-fired power plants open, and are holding speculation and rising CO2 prices partly responsible for the more expensive energy. According to the Commission, the CO2 trade is responsible for only one fifth of the price increase.

“The price will rise every day if this stupid plan is not withdrawn,” Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said. “That's why we have to stop or suspend emissions trading. We have to get back to reality.” The European Commission denies this. For them, the Green Deal is not part of the problem, but the solution.

Vice-President Frans Timmermans said earlier this week that the trade in pollution rights is only a very minor cause of the rise in energy prices. Not only the heads of state and government are concerned with this, but also the energy ministers of the EU in the coming week.