European Union energy ministers met during an emergency meeting on Friday in an effort to discuss mechanisms to shield citizens from surging energy bills. The ministers also congregated to discuss safeguards to prevent the collapse of European energy utilities in the midst of the halting of Russian energy supplies to Europe following the Ukraine crisis.
Prior to the Ukraine invasion, Russia supplied one-third of Europe’s natural gas. The nation declared that an absolute halt on gas supplies to Europe will be imposed should the EU decide to enforce a plan to cap Russian gas prices.
While the European Commission’s proposal to provide emergency liquidity to power firms facing soaring collateral requirements has gained widespread support, the proposal to cap power prices has drawn a mixed reception as critics fear the Russian response.
Some critics believe that the move will have a minimal effect other than to antagonize Russia, seeing as Russian exports are already low. “There is not that much Russian gas coming to Europe, so I don’t see the added value of that (a Russian gas price cap),” Belgium’s Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten remarked.
Others strongly support the move to cap prices, adding that this would deprive Russia of funds that could be used to advance their invasion of Ukraine. “Russia has said if you want our gas, take down the sanctions. It is blackmail. We cannot back down, we have to be united, we have to have the political will to help Ukraine win,” Estonian Economic Affairs Minister Riina Sikkut declared.