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Friday, Feb 03, 2023

Divisions grow over EU gas price cap

Divisions grow over EU gas price cap

Time is running out for a deal on capping gas prices ahead of an emergency meeting of EU energy ministers.
Twelve EU countries are pushing for a lower price cap on gas, intensifying concerns that the bloc could fail to reach a deal on the measure, ahead of an emergency meeting of energy ministers this week, a document seen by POLITICO shows.

Ambassadors met Saturday to discuss the Commission's market correction mechanism, which Brussels says will limit excessive gas price hikes.

Under the Commission's original plan, the cap would be triggered when prices on the European wholesale gas trading benchmark — the Dutch TTF — hit €275 per megawatt-hour for two weeks, if those prices are more than €58 per MWh higher than liquefied natural gas prices on the global market.

But countries remain starkly divided over the plan, which the European Central Bank said had the potential to “jeopardise financial stability” in the eurozone.

The latest compromise from the Council, also seen by POLITICO and dated 9 December, proposed cutting the level of the cap to €220 per MWh for five days and a €35 per MWh spread with global LNG prices.

But that wasn't enough for Belgium, Bulgaria, Greece, Croatia, Latvia, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia. These countries — enough to form a blocking minority and torpedo a deal — demanded the cap be lowered significantly further, to €160 per MWh with a €20 per MWh spread, the document shows.

They also want the measure to apply to all derivatives, rather just month-ahead trades. But that's something some countries more skeptical of a price cap — like Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Denmark, Estonia and Luxembourg — have said is a "red line," one diplomat said.

Ambassadors are set to meet again Monday to discuss the measure further, ahead of an extraordinary Energy Council on Tuesday.
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