Today, EU energy ministers met in Luxembourg to exchange views on the increase in energy prices and discuss possible mitigating measures at the national and EU levels.
Following a decline in global and EU energy prices in late 2019 and 2020, there has been a sharp rebound in recent months.
Taking into account the political discussions on possible remedies held in different formations, the Council Presidency decided to convene an extraordinary Council of energy ministers. The aim was to follow up on the discussions of the European Council on 21-22 October, which mandated the Energy Council to continue working on this important matter and to have a first formal discussion on the Commission’s “toolbox” on energy prices presented on 13 October.
The green transition is not part of the problem. The green transition is part of the solution. We want to achieve two important goals – climate neutrality and an energetically independent Europe. For this we have to invest in renewable energy sources and new technologies. – Jernej Vrtovec, Slovenian Minister of Infrastructure
The debate focussed on two questions prepared by the Presidency:
- How could EU-level action support and complement the immediate measures taken by member states to mitigate the impact of rising energy prices on EU citizens and businesses?
- According to the member states, are the medium-term measures proposed by the Commission sufficient to address the challenge of future energy price fluctuations? What further measures at the EU and member state levels, including the use of EU financial tools, could be envisaged?
Ministers welcomed the Commission’s “toolbox” as a good basis to steer the discussions and generally supported the analysis of the causes of the hike in energy prices.
Concerning short-term measures, ministers agreed that national measures have to be taken as a matter of urgency to shield the most vulnerable consumers. In this context, the proposed toolbox provides a useful European framework to coordinate national actions.
Ministers also discussed possible medium and longer-term options, including reforms of the functioning of the wholesale electricity market, voluntary joint purchase schemes for gas, and EU-level solutions for storage.
Some member states underlined that climate policies and the clean energy transition are part of the solution and not the cause of the increase of energy prices. They insisted that investments in renewable energies, energy efficiency, and integration of energy systems remain key in increasing the resilience of the EU’s energy systems.
Ministers looked forward to receiving further analyses and assessments mentioned by the Commission, in particular the studies on the functioning of the gas and electricity markets, as well as the EU ETS market.
A preliminary report by the European Union Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) will shed light on the situation in the electricity market. The first preliminary assessment by the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) in mid-November will provide member states with more clarity on the integrity of the European carbon market.
The market analyses will serve as input for further deliberations and possible further actions.
Several ministers called on the Commission to clarify the role of natural gas and nuclear energy in the EU taxonomy for sustainable finance.
Energy ministers agreed to take stock on the evolution of energy prices and progress made on the implementation of measures contained in the Commission’s toolbox in December. The Energy Council will prepare the grounds for the December European Council where EU leaders will revert to the issue of energy prices.
- European Council conclusions, 21-22 October 2021
- Commission communication on energy prices
- Clean energy: fuelling the transition to a low-carbon economy (background information)
- Watch the recording of the public debate
- Meeting n°3821
- 26 October 2021