Rising inflation, a crippling dependence on Russian gas and fears of power outages – Europe is in for a worrisome winter. What solutions can the Commission propose? And how is it going to mitigate rising energy costs for citizens?
EU Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson has the answers.
euronews: Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced new sanctions. What will they look like?
Samson: Well, it’s being worked on. We are ready to do something if we see that we have left something out in the previous sanctions packages.
euronews: Which specific suggestions have not yet been considered?
Samson: This is an implementation issue. As we implement mutual agreements in many sectors and services, we see where more attention is needed.
euronews: Is it mostly about energy again?
Samson: Several sanctions have already been applied to energy. I personally think we need a price cap on Russian gas because we don’t have sanctions yet.
euronews: A cap on the price of Russian gas has been discussed before, but was not included in the Commission’s latest proposal. Why not?
Samson: There were many questions about how we will ensure security of supply for the winter and next year. You cannot supply gas to someone else. For them, this could be a way, the only way, to generate revenue despite the price cap. But the excess profits they currently have would not be there.
euronews: Do you think other member states will agree to a cap on Russian gas prices?
Samson: This is a very complex topic. To survive the winter safely, we need to know what’s out there. At the same time, Member States have already done a lot. They took measures to reduce gas consumption and filled the tanks with great success. Currently, our gas tanks are more than 86% full. This is more than we agreed on in the summer.
euronews: Some countries are asking for a price cap on all imported gas. Can it work?
Samson: The attitude towards Russia and other partners must be different.
Then there is the LNG, the liquefied gas market. We must reject market manipulation to buy the additional LNG we need cheaply.
euronews: Do I understand correctly that the Commission does not want a price cap for all imported gas?
Samson: No, the topic is not closed yet. The big question is how to organize it so that we continue to be offered a sufficient quantity.
euronews: Among the actions proposed by the Commission: what will Europeans see first? Both the solidarity tax and the market income are technically difficult to implement…
Samson: Citizens of 27 EU member states are already seeing some results. Last week’s offer is for a market situation where there is little supply.
euronews: When will the money that the Commission expects to collect from its taxes be received?
euronews: And when will the solidarity tax be?
Samson: The corporate solidarity tax refers to excess profits from fossil fuels this year. This means that they will not pay any additional premiums until the end of the year.
euronews: The proposal also provides for a mandatory 5 percent reduction in electricity consumption. How can the Commission ensure that Member States participate?
Samson: This is a binding obligation. This means that Member States know what to do. Demand mechanisms and corresponding contracts with large users are there, they just need to be used more often.
euronews: Will we also see that residents reduce consumption, that is, they must actively save energy?
Samson: Households are protected consumers and even if we don’t have enough energy in a crisis, households are protected. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t all try to save energy. Reducing energy costs is a matter of common sense. If millions of Europeans do the right thing now and don’t waste energy, our industry will not have to find itself in a situation where rationing is necessary.