Energy crisis: EU agrees on emergency measures to cut bills

European energy ministers reached an agreement on Friday on emergency measures to help households and businesses cope with soaring energy prices, the Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU announced. These measures consist in recovering part of the “superprofits” of energy producers to redistribute them to the consumer, and in reducing the demand for electricity at peak times.

But the countries remain divided on a cap on the price of gas imports, which comes up against German reluctance in particular. “There is no time to lose” to bring down the price of gas, urged Czech Energy Minister Jozef Sikela, whose country holds the EU Council Presidency.

“We are in an energy war”

“We are in an energy war with Russia, winter is coming and we have to act now, that is today, maybe tomorrow, not in a week and certainly not in a month “, urged the Czech minister. The emergency measures approved on Friday set a binding target for states to reduce their electricity consumption “by at least 5%” during peak hours. The Twenty-Seven are also called upon to reduce their monthly electricity consumption by 10%, an indicative objective.

Another measure: the ceiling on the income of electricity producers from nuclear and renewables (wind, solar, hydroelectric) who reap exceptional profits by selling their production at a price much higher than their production costs.

This ceiling is set at 180 euros per megawatt hour and the difference between this level and the wholesale market price must be recovered by the States to be redistributed to households and businesses. A “temporary solidarity contribution” also applies to producers and distributors of gas, coal and oil.

Increased tensions with gas pipeline leaks

In total, revenues of around 140 billion euros could thus be donated, according to the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. Recent leaks on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea, denounced by the EU as acts of “sabotage”, have further increased tension in the bloc, already shaken by soaring prices linked to the war. by Russia in Ukraine.

Many EU countries have already put in place support schemes at national level to relieve households and businesses strangled by bills. Like France, which applies caps to energy prices, Germany announced Thursday that it would release up to 200 billion additional euros to limit gas and electricity prices.

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