The ministers will meet in the first half of December in the hope of overcoming differences, according to Czech Minister of Industry and Trade Josef Sekela, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the European Union.
He added that the ministers had nevertheless managed to adopt other “important measures”, including joint gas purchases to avoid competition within the European Union raising prices, solidarity in providing supplies when needed, and speeding up approvals related to renewable energy sources.
And a number of ministers participating in Thursday’s meeting submitted complaints regarding the current proposal to set a ceiling for gas prices, which was revealed by the European Commission two days ago, and is clearly designed “so that it will not be used at all.”
The energy ministers of Poland and Spain described the proposal as a “farce”.
In turn, Greek Energy Minister Kostas Skrekas pointed out that the ceiling “is not really a ceiling” on gas prices, warning of “precious time wasted without any results,” as he put it.
The plan, which the European Commission was not enthusiastic about in the first place, sets a ceiling for gas prices of 275 euros per megawatt hour.
But it is accompanied by many conditions, so that it was not possible to activate it in August, for example, when the price of gas for a short period exceeded 300 euros, something that sparked panic in Europe, which is accustomed to prices that represent approximately 10 percent of this figure.
According to the plan, the proposed cap of €275 per MWh will only apply when this threshold has been breached for at least two weeks and only if the price of LNG rises to more than €58 for 10 days within the same two-week period.
The wholesale price of gas sold in Europe on Thursday amounted to about 124 euros, according to the main reference “TTF” index.
Many believe that the Commission’s proposal to set a price ceiling has been neutralized by pressure from countries such as Germany and the Netherlands, as Germany is concerned that it will divert gas supplies to more profitable markets, such as those in Asia.
Nevertheless, at least 15 EU countries, more than half of the bloc’s countries, demand a workable wholesale gas price cap to deal with supply shortages caused by the war in Ukraine.
While the European Union has not banned Russian gas, the Kremlin is blocking supplies in response to the sanctions Brussels imposed on Moscow in response to the invasion.
Before the war, Russian gas supplies accounted for more than 40 percent of the total gas imported by the European Union, while Germany, the largest exporter in the bloc, was one of the countries most dependent on Russian gas.
Now that supply has fallen to less than 10 percent.
But alternative sources, such as liquefied natural gas from the United States and the Gulf states, are unable to fill the shortage, while Europe faces exorbitant heating bills for the winter.
EU Energy Commissioner Cadre Simpson acknowledged divisions over price caps and noted that ministers “have the right to adjust the various determinants”.
A price cap plan, if adopted, will come into effect from January.
It will be implemented in addition to a voluntary initiative of the member states of the European Union based on reducing the use of natural gas by 15 percent during the winter.