BRUSSELS — With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine triggering a devastating vitality disaster in Europe, the European Fee stated on Wednesday that it will ask international locations to approve a broad cap on the value of Russian gasoline. It’s also proposing measures like obligatory cuts in electrical energy use, a tax on oil and gasoline firms, and a tax on the value of electrical energy generated by renewables.
The strikes, which have been outlined by the Fee’s president, Ursula von der Leyen, set the stage for a interval of intensive and pressing debate within the European Union to shortly sort out the unprecedented vitality disaster engulfing the area as Russia cuts its provide of pure gasoline to many E.U. member states, sending the gasoline and its linked electrical energy markets into a pointy spiral.
Russia has turned the gasoline faucet on and off to punish European international locations, primarily Germany, for supporting Ukraine, blaming the widespread disruptions on technical issues and upkeep.
E.U. vitality ministers will meet on Friday in Brussels to debate the bloc’s proposals. European governments from Germany to Greece are burning by means of billions of euros a month to subsidize shoppers’ and companies’ electrical energy payments, that are in some instances 5 instances as excessive as final yr.
Managing electrical energy costs will not be solely an financial and social purpose, but in addition a political crucial in Europe. With recollections of the “yellow vest” protests in France over vitality costs nonetheless uncooked, and new actions effervescent as much as denounce rises in the price of residing and, in some instances, continued help for Ukraine in opposition to Russia’s invasion, European politicians have little alternative however to take unorthodox and costly measures to placate outraged shoppers.
“We face a unprecedented state of affairs as a result of Russia is an unreliable provider and is manipulating our vitality markets,” Ms. von der Leyen stated in a press release on Wednesday.
She added that the bloc’s pure gasoline storage amenities have been already 82 % full and that Russian gasoline imports had dwindled from 40 % of the bloc’s whole to a mere 9 %. 13 of the European Union’s 27 members are dealing with partial or whole Russian gasoline shutdowns, with the most important impact being felt in Germany, the bloc’s largest financial system and essentially the most reliant by far on Russian gasoline.
Different European international locations have additionally been extremely depending on Russia for his or her gasoline, however gasoline represents a much less essential a part of their vitality combine, making them rather less susceptible to Moscow’s shutdowns.
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia was defiant within the face of the value cap menace, calling it one other instance of “stupidity.”
“All administrative restrictions in world commerce solely result in imbalances and better costs,” he stated on Wednesday at an financial information convention within the Russian far-eastern metropolis of Vladivostok.
In her speech on Wednesday, Ms. von der Leyen stated governments wanted to intervene urgently within the gasoline and electrical energy markets — an idea that almost all E.U. international locations agree on, though there are disagreements over tips on how to finest try this.
“We’re confronted with astronomic electrical energy costs for households and corporations and with monumental market volatility,” she stated.
In July, the Fee secured help for voluntary cuts in vitality use of 15 % by subsequent summer season; on Wednesday, Ms. von der Leyen stated she would suggest obligatory cuts in electrical energy use throughout peak hours.
As a result of the European electrical energy market hyperlinks the value of electrical energy to the value of the most costly gas used to generate it — within the present second, gasoline — Ms. von der Leyen additionally stated she would ask E.U. international locations to successfully tax firms that generate electrical energy from non-gas sources.
Following a mannequin already in place in Greece, Ms. von der Leyen stated governments ought to use these funds to “help susceptible individuals and corporations to adapt.”
She additionally prompt that oil and gasoline firms, that are making large income, ought to pay a “solidarity contribution” and that governments ought to be capable to subsidize nationwide utility firms which can be dealing with massive enter prices to proceed producing electrical energy.
Ivan Nechepurenko contributed reporting.