Roof on the price of Russian gas, how long is the EU decision missing?

The Commission is invited to make a proposal but there are still no definite indications

Steps forward but not yet decisive. The slow European procedures, and the more or less explicit vetoes that change in form but not in substance, do not yet give certainty on the decision of the EU to impose a ceiling on the price of gas imported from Russia. Nor is it easy to understand how much is actually missing at a step that could and should have already come for months, as the Head of State Sergio Mattarella recalled.

Today’s news is that the ministers of the EU member states, meeting in Brussels for the extraordinary Energy Council, have invited the Commission to “propose an emergency and temporary intervention, including a ceiling on the price of gas”, by “half September”. This was reported by the summary of the presidency, released at the end of the meeting. In this regard, the measures should help families and businesses, “preserving the incentive to reduce gas and electricity consumption and the market signal for decarbonisation”. The ministers “examined possible options for introducing a price cap on gas imported from specific jurisdictions: further work is needed on the possible introduction of this measure”.

These are words that leave several variables open with respect to the timing and modalities of the intervention. Mid-September is next week but there are still few certainties. It is enough to line up the official statements, and add the resistance reiterated by the largest European ‘shareholder’, Germany, to get the picture of the situation, which is still nebulous. The European Commission is “studying the possibility of imposing a cap on Russian gas imported via pipeline”, explained the European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson. A pipe gas cap “would hit Russia’s coffers and prevent it from maintaining revenues by cutting supplies. We intend to increase our work on the energy platform to negotiate lower prices from other suppliers: I plan to visit Algeria to discuss additional supplies to Europe. There is no one-size-fits-all solution that significantly lowers prices and secures supplies. We must continue the work with determination on all fronts. ”

Czech Minister of Industry Jozef Sikela said that among the countries there is “a prevailing view” that “we need a roof as an emergency measure,” but we need to give the Commission more time to refine where “exactly to put the roof. . Today, Simson added, “several ministers asked us to also analyze a price cap for the rest of the gas” imported into the EU, but “if the goal of our policies is to counteract the manipulation of Russia, it makes sense to take a target only Russian gas. At this stage, nothing is off the table “, but a ceiling on the price of liquefied natural gas could pose problems for the” security of supplies “and the LNG market is” very competitive “. Moreover, the EU” is not among the main buyers “of LNG and now what is” important “is to replace Russian supplies with those of” alternative suppliers “.

When asked directly whether or not the Commission will propose a gas price cap next Tuesday, Simson did not reply: the decision “has not yet been made” and “we will comment on it on Tuesday,” he said. Tuesday is another day, but there is still a long way to go.