European leaders spent several hours on Thursday discussing the so-called “toolbox” to counter rising energy prices, but in the end it looks like Brussels can’t do much in the next period to keep citizens from being hit. this winter of high gas and energy bills, writes in a summary Politico.eu.
Although they called on the European Commission to “quickly consider medium- and long-term measures”, such as the development of a strategic natural gas reserve, the Heads of State and Government have hardly acknowledged that, at least in the short term, governments It is up to them to manage the issue of rising prices on their own, in particular by reducing taxes and providing subsidies to citizens in need.
Countries such as Spain, Greece, Poland and Hungary called for precise action in the summit’s conclusions, an option rejected by most other member states, reluctant to take drastic measures to combat a crisis that some predict will end in the spring.
There were also signs that some European leaders were ready to use the energy price crisis to gain political advantage. For example, in a statement to the press ahead of the summit, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban called on the Commission to “withdraw and completely rethink” the “Fit for 55” initiative, a package of measures aimed at reducing CO2 emissions by 55% by in 2030 compared to 1990 levels. He described the plan as a “utopian fantasy” that has the effect of raising energy prices in Europe. However, during the summit, Orban was more moderate, demanding only an “impact analysis”, according to a diplomat.
For his part, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis suggested that European leaders abandon the idea that the EU could ever get rid of its dependence on Russian gas. “Forget about independence from Russia, it will never happen,” Babis said, according to another diplomat.
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for – but not to mention – Eastern countries to separate the discussion on high energy prices from that on the “Fit for 55” package, which she says to a large extent it has nothing to do with the current crises.
European leaders also had conflicting views on the inclusion of nuclear energy in “green” energy. Opposition in particular by Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel and Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg has prevented any reference to supporting the energy source from being included in the summit’s final declaration.
A greater challenge for European leaders seemed to be the lack of a magic solution or any real or hypothetical tool for other problems, including very low rates of COVID-19 vaccination in Romania and Bulgaria or the heated dispute with Poland over state principles. by law, remarks Politico.eu.
On this dispute, amplified by the ruling by which the Polish Constitutional Court ruled that the national constitution takes precedence over EU law, European Council President Charles Michel has carefully handled so that this issue with a deep risk of causing division does not dominates the summit. He put it on the agenda an hour just before dinner, when many participants were already hungry and others wanted to return to the more pressing discussion about energy, according to Agerpres.ro.
But in the ensuing debate, some European leaders expressed their exasperation at the erosion of the independence of the judiciary in Poland, and in particular Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte called on the Commission to launch a new mechanism against Poland to cut European funds for a state. member. However, the issue of the rule of law was excluded from the summit’s conclusions.