EU energy ministers debate gas strategy as spiking energy prices weigh on European economies

Energy officials from across the European Union are gathering on Tuesday to discuss record high gas prices that have made food, petrol and electricity costs for households crushingly expensive.

European fuel costs hit all-time highs in autumn, forcing most member states to respond with emergency steps, including price caps and subsidies to cut consumer energy payments.

On Monday, natural gas futures for November traded at $1,109 per thousand cubic meters, or $107 per megawatt-hour in household terms. Earlier this month, European gas prices exceeded the $1,900 level for the first time ever.

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Discord among the members of the bloc has deepened ahead of an emergency assembly of ministers, with some nations looking for a regulatory overhaul to tackle the spike in energy costs, while others are firmly against it.

Spain, France, Czechia and Greece say the scheme would lead to an even bigger shake-up of the way the EU energy markets work. They are pushing for proposals that embody decoupling from European electrical energy and fuel costs and joint fuel shopping among countries to create emergency reserves.

Meanwhile, nine countries together with Germany insist on a faster rollout of renewables to wean the bloc off natural gas, more electricity interconnections between countries, and increased renovations so buildings consume less energy.

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“We cannot support any measure that conflicts with the internal gas and electricity market, for instance an ad hoc reform of the wholesale electricity market,” a joint statement released on Monday by Austria, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Latvia and the Netherlands reads.

“This will not be a remedy to mitigate the current rising energy prices linked to fossil fuels markets.”

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