On Friday (24/6/2022), EU leaders held a meeting and said that cheap energy had disappeared. They agreed to step up the reduction preparation Russian gas further.
The EU accuses Moscow of using energy as a weapon with Germany and could shut down some of its industry, as reported Reuters.
The EU leaders’ meeting in Brussels comes amid growing concerns over soaring energy prices and warnings of a difficult winter.
“Inflation is our main concern,” European Council chief Charles Michel said at a news conference as the two-day meeting concluded.
“Russian wars of aggression are driving up the prices of food, energy and commodities,” Michel continued.
He added that EU leaders agreed to coordinate their economic policy response closely.
The meeting agreed on some concrete steps. But the leaders tasked the European Commission with finding more ways to secure affordable energy supplies.
European Commission Chair Ursula von der Leyen said the search for alternative supplies was already underway.
In addition, the EU executive will present a readiness plan for more gas cuts from Russia to leaders in July.
“Hope for the best, be prepared for the worst. That’s what we’re doing now,” said von der Leyen.
The European Commission will put forward various proposals and options for discussion at the next EU summit in October.
One contentious issue is whether the government should step in to limit prices.
Spain and Portugal capped gas prices in their local electricity markets this month. However, other countries warn that price restrictions will disrupt energy markets and drain state coffers further.
Leaders of EU member states cited the huge price spikes and slumping global growth caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine four months ago.
“The idea of cheap energy is gone and the idea of Russian energy is basically gone and we are all in the process of securing alternative sources,” said Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins.
He added that the government should support the people who suffer the most.
Following various Western sanctions imposed over the invasion, a dozen European countries have so far been hit by cuts to gas flows from Russia.
“It’s only a matter of time before Russia shuts down all gas shipments,” an EU official said ahead of Friday’s meeting.
German Economy Minister Robert Habeck warned his country was heading for a gas shortage if Russian supplies remained as low as they are now.
In fact, some industries will have to close next winter.
“Companies will have to stop production, lay off their workers, supply chains will collapse, people will go into debt to pay their heating bills,” he told Der Spiegel.
Inflation in the 19 EU countries has also hit an all-time high of over 8 percent. EU executives expect growth to fall to 2.7 percent this year.
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