Greece will submit a technical proposal for a cap on natural gas prices to the European Commission later this week following consultations with other European countries, its energy minister said on Monday.
EU countries’ energy ministers adopted a fresh set of policies on Friday to attempt to tame high energy costs, including windfall profit taxes on energy firms.
But states are divided over what to do next – with many calling for an EU-wide cap on gas prices, but others, including Europe’s economic powerhouse Germany, opposed.
Energy ministers from Greece, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Belgium and Poland will discuss the Greek proposal in a conference call this week, Energy Minister Kostas Skrekas told state ERT television, without elaborating on the proposal.
“I hope that with this proposal, we will finally manage to win the necessary majority so that there is a cap on the natural gas price in Europe,” he said.
In an article published by Bloomberg earlier on Monday, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis urged Europe to take back control of its gas market, with a cap set high enough to act as a circuit breaker while allowing market activity at reasonable levels to continue.
“A cap should be an upward limit on how high prices can go, not an artificially low number that will destabilise markets,” Mitsotakis was quoted as saying in the article.
“Sooner or later, markets will balance – but without a cap on prices, the cost of that balancing will be measured in lives destroyed and jobs lost,” said the conservative premier, who in July proposed a pan-European scheme to compensate large energy users for reducing their consumption.
Mitsotakis told the news agency that he had a specific cap in mind, which he did not want to disclose as it was the subject of confidential member-state negotiations.
“We cannot afford to sit back and watch as Russia uses our market institutions against us. It is an act of common sense, and of sovereignty, to step in and design rules that respond to the unprecedented challenge we face,” he was quoted as saying, noting both the risks of a price cap and “the dangers of inertia” as winter approached.
EU country leaders will discuss their joint next steps to tame soaring energy prices when they meet on Friday in Prague.
Skrekas said that although there was not enough time for Greece to have the proposal ready by then, the country would be able to present a comprehensive proposal before the next meeting of EU energy ministers later this month.