Ministers of the European Union They reached a long-sought deal Monday to implement a natural gas price cap that they hope will help households and businesses better cope with excessive price increases.
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EU member countries failed to resolve their differences in previous emergency meetings, but several EU leaders last week said a cap on gas prices was likely to be achieved this time around.
After talks in Brussels on Monday, the Czech presidency of the European Council, which represents member countries, announced the agreement, the details of which were not disclosed.
Since no consensus could be reached on the issue, the Czech Presidency opted for a “supermajority” voting rule in order to reach a political agreement. Under EU rules, a qualified majority requires that 55% of member countries — or 17 out of 27 — vote in favor of a proposal. Such a vote also requires those nations to represent at least 65% of the bloc’s population.
The 27-nation EU has stuck together through nine rounds of sanctions against Russia over the war in Ukraine and energy-saving measures to prevent shortages of the fuel used to generate electricity, heat homes and run the factories.
However, they had not been able to close a deal to establish the complicated limit price of natural gas, until today. The cap had been promised in October as a way to reduce energy bills that skyrocketed during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The gas price cap issue has proved divisive amid fears that global suppliers will bypass Europe when other buyers offer more money.
“Nobody, least of all me, has nothing against low prices in the gas market. We have to lower gas prices, ”said German Economy Minister Robert Habeck upon his arrival at the meeting. “We only know from previous market interventions that we have to be very careful that we don’t want to do something good and set off something bad.”
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