Updated 6/24/2022 at 6:32 PM
- Russia is restricting gas supplies and the federal government warns that prices will continue to rise.
- Other EU countries are also concerned about the situation in the Union’s largest economy.
- Because one thing is certain: if Germany gets into trouble, it will affect all other European countries.
The looming bottlenecks in gas supply pose a great danger to Germany and the European Union as a whole, but even though the Member States are on the same ship, a common approach to the gas crisis is not an easy task. At Friday’s EU summit in Brussels, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) said “all activities” had been taken to import energy from countries other than Russia. However, these efforts need to be further accelerated. This is a big challenge. “But we’ll connect there.”
Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin has warned that “we are facing a very difficult winter”. This also applies to Germany, which is one of the EU countries that is particularly dependent on Russian gas. Many in the EU now look at the situation in the Union’s largest economy: “If Germany gets into trouble, it will have a huge impact on all other European countries, including ours,” said Prime Minister Alexander De Croo of Belgium.
To prevent this, the federal government and the network agency called for energy savings. Everyone in the industry and in private can contribute, said the head of Netzagentur Klaus Müller at ARD “Morgenmagazin”. “And yes, it includes a sweater, a shower head, a little mute heating. It all helps.” Federal Economy Minister Robert Habeck also warned companies and consumers to save gas. Consumer Protection Minister Steffi Lemke (both Greens) said that companies and public institutions are as demanding as households.
The EU wants to reduce its dependence on Russian gas
Since the start of the Russian offensive war in Ukraine at the end of February, European gas supplies from Russia have been considered threatened. Moscow has already significantly reduced or stopped supplies to Germany and other EU countries. The EU is working to reduce its dependence on Russia. The federal government on Thursday announced the level of the alarm in the emergency plan for gas. Energy prices have already risen sharply. If Russian gas supplies fail completely, economists anticipate an economic crisis.
Energy suppliers and politicians are concerned about the ten-day routine maintenance of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which begins on 11 July. Asked if he feared Russia would no longer supply gas afterwards, Habeck told RTL: “I would be lying if I said I wasn’t afraid.”
If so, gas prices could continue to rise sharply. Suppliers still do not have the “right to adjust prices”. If the network agency activates a certain mechanism, it could pass on higher prices to final consumers within a week. Then the price guarantees, which are concluded, for example, with annual contracts, would no longer apply. The award ceremony is intended to prevent the collapse of utilities. Netzagentur chief Müller warned against doubling or even tripling gas prices – and urged consumers to set aside money.
What to do about gas shortages ?: The EU is divided on this issue
But what can EU countries do together against gas shortages? There is disagreement on this. Already in March, they agreed to unite their purchasing power and buy gas together. But countries like Italy or Belgium want much more radical measures and are pushing for a price cap at EU level to relieve consumers. Spain and Portugal already have national exceptions. The EU summit at the end of May instructed the European Commission to explore further ways to curb rising energy prices – including a temporary price cap. However, countries like the Czech Republic refuse to take such a step, as it would be an intervention in the market.
Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins said on Friday that measures such as joint purchasing are “probably a medium to long-term solution”. The most important thing is to support those who suffer the most from high inflation. Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, on the other hand, warned against putting money in the pockets of the population. “It would only increase inflation,” she said. Europe’s gas bottleneck and rising energy prices will also be the topic of the G7 summit, which Scholz has been hosting since Sunday in Elmau, Bavaria. (dpa / fra)