“Hard discussion” seen at energy ministers meeting Friday

All eyes will be on Brussels on Friday, when Europe’s energy ministers meet to discuss ways of tackling soaring power prices. The head of the European Commission has proposed capping Russian gas prices – but the Czech presidency of the EU is firmly opposed to this plan. I discussed the emergency summit with Czech Radio’s Filip Nerad.

Filip Nerad | Photo: Jana Přinosilová,  Czech Radio

“It will be a hard discussion, because for some of the member states, including the Czech Republic, this capping is very problematic.

“Because the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and these eastern countries are still very dependent on Russian gas supplies.

“They are afraid that if the EU introduces such a cap then Moscow will turn off the gas taps and there will be no Russian gas and that would create new problems.

“So they see this tool more like a new kind of sanction against Russia than a tool for helping to solve the energy price crisis that we are facing now.

“That’s why these countries are against it, and that’s why the Czech EU presidency doesn’t want to discuss this proposal and wants to focus on other measures.”

So given all of this, what do you think is the most likely outcome on Friday?

Photo: Marco Verch,  Flickr,  CC BY 2.0

“Some kind of compromise.

“The European Commission introduced yesterday [Wednesday] five areas where to try to tackle this problem.

“I suppose some of them will be part of this solution – and this solution will again have many exemptions for various countries.

“So the same approach as with the gas deal from July.”

How important is it do you think that some deal is actually reached? I see that the Czech industry minister, Jozef Síkela, is saying the Czechs already have their own plan for dealing with energy prices almost ready to go.

“That’s true, but on the other hand the Czech EU presidency and other EU countries are saying that they want an EU solution.

Jozef Síkela | Photo: Office of Czech Government

“If there will be some kind of EU solution it would be a good sign for the energy markets.

“And if there is, the price can go down.

“We already saw that when the Czech EU presidency announced this emergency meeting of energy ministers and the price of electricity went a little bit down.

“So if they reach some agreement, it will have a positive effect on the markets – and that’s one of the goals of this meeting.”

Would you say that this is one of the most important moments so far in the Czech EU presidency?

“Yes, so far it’s the most important meeting.

“But I’m afraid it won’t be the last important meeting that the Czech EU presidency will have to summon.”

Author: Ian Willoughby
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