Member states, including France and Spain, have called on the European Union to reform its energy market in order to save it from collapse. The global energy crisis has already pushed gas prices over 600% this year and experts fear the EU will experience a full-blown crisis this winter. However, EU ministers clashed on Thursday when a coalition of member states, including Germany, opposed calls to reform the bloc’s market rules.
As supplies dwindled and suppliers struggled to meet demand, consumers across the continent faced sky-high energy bills and the dreaded possibility of energy poverty this winter.
After hitting record highs in October, gas prices have stabilized somewhat, but continued blackouts could still cripple the block if the winter proves particularly harsh.
The crisis has also hit the UK where nearly 30 energy suppliers have gone bankrupt, leaving millions of customers in limbo.
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Earlier this year, the EU released its ‘toolbox’ which Member States can access.
It included powers that would enable countries to implement measures in the short to medium term, such as lowering taxes and encouraging the adoption of green power purchase agreements.
Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said: “As we emerge from the pandemic and begin our economic recovery, it is important to protect vulnerable consumers and support European businesses. “
This decision was openly opposed in a joint declaration signed by Germany, Austria, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Latvia, Estonia and Finland.
The nine Member States said: “We cannot support any measure which would constitute a departure from the competitive principles of the design of our electricity and gas markets.
“Deviating from these principles would jeopardize the cost-effective decarbonization of our energy system, jeopardize the affordability and security of supply. “
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The five member states also called on the EU to adopt joint gas purchases with the aim of building up strategic gas reserves.
Ms Simson has since said that the European Commission will come up with a framework through which member states could purchase strategic gas stocks.
But this is not the first time that Member States have broken ranks with the EU’s big hitters.
Countries argued for nuclear power as an “affordable, stable and independent” source of energy that could strengthen the block market.
Germany has a long history of opposition to nuclear power, especially after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.
Mr Macron’s alliance wrote in an open letter: “We need nuclear power. This is the key and the only way to a low carbon future for all of us. “