EU Council mulls legal cap on natural gas prices, says Polish minister

Marcin Bielecki/PAP

A draft regulation has been tabled at an EU Council sitting of the bloc's energy ministers in Luxemburg, Polish Climate and Environment Minister Anna Moskwa said on Tuesday.

The Council sitting of EU ministers responsible for energy matters met following the conclusions of an EU Summit, which stated that they were to work out the details of a price cap on natural gas.

"The European Council (of October 20-21) ended with very good conclusions for us, that the task of the next Council (a sitting of member state ministers - PAP) is to work on a maximum price for gas," Moskwa said after the meeting. "That was defined (in the conclusions) as a 'corridor.' And that was the main subject of today's meeting."

She explained that the progress in contrast to previous Council meetings was that a concrete document was tabled. "In this regulatory document the mechanism of that maximum price is described in some detail," Moskwa continued. "It concerns spot transactions, or all those that are not covered by long-term, bilateral contracts. Our expectation would be that it would affect all gas transactions, and many countries support that proposal. However, the main success is that the regulation has appeared in the form of a legislative proposition."

She went on to caution that the mechanism still did not define exactly what the maximum price would be and "does not give details."

She said the EU member states had obliged the European Commission to ensure such a proposal appeared as quickly as possible and that the Council's Czech presidency had declared that at the next Council Summit, on November 24, it would be on the agenda to be adopted and voted on to come into force as soon as possible.

Moskwa said that Germany and Hungary had opposed the plans but were "absolutely isolated, without the understanding of the other countries," and that if the document had been voted on Tuesday it would have been passed by a majority. She said she hoped agreement would be reached on the document at the planned EU Summit on November 24.