March 25, 2023

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The Prague Conference for a Common European Solution to the Energy Crisis. Several states rose up against Germany

More than 40 leaders from Europe sat at the same table, in Prague, to find a solution to the rising prices, in the midst of the energy crisis.

Inside the European Union, there is already a problem – Germany is being criticized for its giant €200 billion cap plan, while unitary gas solutions are being called for across the Union. 15 states, including Romania, have requested price caps at the European level.

The head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has proposed a temporary cap on gas prices and a common supply system, but there is no consensus yet. In Prague, 43 European leaders met to discuss solutions.

Klaus Iohannis, President of Romania: “More determined measures are needed. With all the sanctions, with all the measures, which were good and which have been taken so far, a significant drop in energy prices has not yet been achieved.”

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Klaus Iohannis

15 countries from the European Union, including Romania, support capping gas prices. Germany instead seems to want to fend for itself and is, along with Denmark and the Netherlands, against the initiative that would destabilize the market, according to Berlin.

France and Italy have criticized Germany for acting alone at a time when a common European plan is needed.

Emmanuel Macron, President of France: “We need to protect our key infrastructure. We need a European strategy to protect it.”

Germany is ready to put up a huge sum – 200 billion euros – to cap the prices of gas and electricity, while the rest of the states, including poor ones, try to reach a common solution.

France has decided to cap the increase in energy prices at 15% in 2023, a measure that will cost 16 billion euros. The cost of bills should be 25 euros, and poor families will receive checks of 200 euros as support.

For the Czechs, the capping measure for gas and electricity costs more than 5 billion euros.

And in Spain, electricity price caps are in place until the end of winter, with discounts of up to 20% on bills.

Hope is in a mild winter

Romania also has a capping and compensation scheme for electricity and gas, but the hard work is just beginning, experts say.

Sorin Elisei, energy specialist: “As we expect gas supplies from the Russian Federation to be interrupted soon, we need to increase domestic production. Short-term hope must lie in a mild winter, reduced consumption and the availability of domestic natural gas production.”

Romania does not currently have a concrete variant of importing gas, in case we have a very hard winter, which would force us to bring gas from other sources. Our authorities have been talking about negotiations with the Azerbaijanis, from whom to import, but for now no contract has been signed. We lack the transit agreement from Turkey for this interconnector, Bulgaria-Greece, which started operating at the beginning of the month. Through these pipelines we could theoretically bring Azerbaijani gas from the Caspian Sea, but also from other countries, such as Cyprus and Israel. An option next year would be liquefied gases from northern Greece.

Meanwhile, EU countries have filled their gas storages and reached 90%, a level Romania is also approaching.

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