The European Commission outlined measures on Wednesday for the EU to use to combat surging energy prices and said it would explore joint gas purchasing among countries as a way to cushion price spikes, according to Reuters.
Record-high electricity and gas prices this year have curtailed industrial production and hiked consumers’ heating bills, prompting 20 EU countries to draw up emergency measures, including energy tax cuts or subsidies for poorer households.
The EU‘s executive confirmed those national responses are allowed under the bloc’s law and mooted coordinated responses that would take longer to launch and address future price shocks.
The Commission will explore the possible benefits of member states jointly buying strategic reserves of gas and countries’ participation in such a scheme would be voluntary.
Spain has led calls for the EU to launch joint gas purchasing, although other countries are wary of using lasting regulatory changes to tackle a short-term crisis. The Commission said gas prices are expected to stabilise at a lower level by April.
EU country leaders will discuss methods to tackle the issues at a summit on October 21-22. Energy ministers from EU countries will hold an extraordinary meeting to discuss the price spike on October 26.
“The only way to fully decouple gas from electricity is no longer to use it to generate power. This is the EU’s long-term goal, to replace fossil fuels with renewables,” said EU energy policy chief Kadri Simson.
The EU is in the process of agreeing on a major package of policies to fight climate change, and the Commission said a fast shift to clean energy is the most effective defence against swings in fossil fuel prices.