Brussels (Brussels Morning) France and Spain have called for a coordinated EU response to deal with rising energy prices in order to protect citizens, businesses and green plans.
The two EU member states pointed out that such a move is needed to protect the poor as well as the competitiveness of businesses and the bloc’s plan to become carbon neutral by 2050, Reuters reported.
Natural gas prices continued to rise in the EU, reaching record levels on Friday as Russia continued to limit deliveries. Since Russia is the bloc’s main supplier of natural gas, the demand for action by the EU implies that Moscow intends to maintain pressure on the EU as the winter approaches.
“What we see is an unprecedented spike in energy prices”, Spain’s Minister of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation, Nadia Calviño, stated at Monday’s meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Luxembourg.
“This is not an issue that we can tackle at national level, we need a European coordinated response”, she insisted, while noting that Spain has considered some options in a paper.
According to Calviño, one option is to create a strategic EU natural gas reserve, since this would assure that the bloc would have a stronger negotiating position than individual member states.
“We have learned through the negotiation of the vaccine supply that we are stronger when we speak with one voice”, she observed.
Le Maire calls for reform
Bruno Le Maire, France’s Minister of the Economy, Finance and Recovery, noted “the European energy market has one key advantage — it secures the supply of energy everywhere in Europe.” A major downside, however, is “the alignment of electricity prices with gas prices”, he added. For this reason, he proposed to decouple gas and electricity prices.
Citing the fact that the green transition will drive up energy prices in the long run, Le Maire said it was vital that the public be made aware of this and the reasons for it. He also cautioned that the prospect of a sustained growth in energy prices “will be one of the major political issues for the coming years.”