December 20, 2022
“EU decision on gas price cap is too little, too late” – Chris MacManus MEP

“EU decision on gas price cap is too little, too late” – Chris MacManus MEP

Chris MacManus, Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands Northwest, has called for European decision-makers to put people’s fundamental right to energy at the core of the EU’s energy policy. He made his comments following a meeting of the EU’s energy ministers on 19 December, where an agreement on a cap for gas prices was finally reached. “Unfortunately, this gas price cap is too little, too late. Many governments have been calling for a gas price cap for months, and when the Commission finally made a proposal, it was for a price cap that would only ever operate in very limited circumstances. Then, Member State governments took weeks to come to an agreement on the proposal, delaying a series of other proposals that could help accelerate the energy transition.”

The price cap agreed targets the Dutch Title Transfer Facility, the EU’s main gas trading hub which serves as a benchmark price for gas trading in the EU. Under the Commission’s proposal, the price cap would only be activated if this gas price benchmark exceeded a very high level, which was not even reached during this summer’s gas price peaks. “Member States gave the Commission a mandate to propose a gas price cap; the Commission’s proposal was not credible and would not help households who are struggling now. Member States adapted the Commission’s proposal to a more workable price cap that would come into force at a lower price level, but it is unacceptable that it took a month to reach this decision.”

Member State’s dithering over the gas price cap also delayed agreement on a series of other policies that would enable the joint purchase of gas and speed up the granting of renewable energy permits. “Short-term measures around gas prices are crucial for tackling energy poverty, and need to be implemented quickly so as to have a real impact on citizens’ energy bills,” said MacManus. “At the same time, more long-term measures to increase our renewable energy generation cannot be neglected.”

The meeting of energy ministers also dealt with a series of other issues relevant to the energy and climate crises. The Council adopted its position on a new law to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas production. The Council introduced higher leak detection limits and repair thresholds, releasing oil and gas companies from the responsibility of controlling smaller leaks of this incredibly potent greenhouse gas. “At a time when households and small businesses are being called on to reduce their energy use, why is the Council introducing loopholes for large oil and gas companies?” questioned MacManus. “Leak detection and repair is a low-hanging fruit in terms of reducing methane emissions, and companies need a robust legal framework to incentivise action here.”

MacManus concluded, “The discussion around price caps and energy market reform do not end here. The Commission is set to propose further measures early in 2023, which need to be much more daring and far-reaching than their proposals to date. Ultimately, debates over markets and economic ideologies need to take a back seat to people’s right to clean, affordable energy. This should be the guiding light of all policy decisions in the energy crisis.” ENDS

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