EU leaders pledge to further coordinate energy policies

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala attends a press conference after an informal summit of the European Union in Prague, the Czech Republic, on Oct. 7, 2022. (LIAN YI / XINHUA)

PRAGUE – European Union leaders said on Friday at an informal summit here that they are still working on coordinated energy policies for the bloc's member states to address the energy crisis plaguing families and businesses.

Our common ambition is to reduce energy prices

Charles Michel,

European Council President

"Our common ambition is to reduce energy prices," European Council President Charles Michel told a press conference after the meeting in the Czech capital.

Europe's worsening energy crisis was under the spotlight as leaders of EU member states met in Prague to discuss the most pressing issues facing the bloc.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that the EU will have more detailed proposals to contain soaring energy costs "in the coming weeks," adding that it is important to avoid the fragmentation of the EU's single market.

Noting that the EU-wide gas storage now stands at 90 percent, von der Leyen underlined the need for the bloc to have joint gas purchases from next spring when the storage is depleted.

In a letter to the EU member states ahead of Friday's meeting, von der Leyen said "a common European response" is the only way to solve the energy crisis, recommending stepping up negotiations with suppliers to reduce the prices of imported gas of all kinds, developing an intervention to limit prices in the natural gas market, and limiting the inflationary impact of gas on electricity.

She also said that the EU member states are discussing a temporary cap on the price of gas used to generate electricity.

However, the member states have reportedly been split over whether and how to cap the gas prices in the lead-up to the Prague meeting. On Friday, the EU leaders did not give details of the potential gas price cap.

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In a statement after the summit, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala reiterated his support for a joint EU solution to address the energy crisis and his opposition against "individual national solutions" because they "go against EU rules."

Before the Friday meeting, the Czech prime minister had criticized the German government's recent national energy support package worth 200 billion euros (195 billion U.S. dollars).

"I repeatedly say on behalf of the Czech Republic that if we have only national solutions, we will be disadvantaged against some countries like Germany, and we should not allow for it," Fiala had said.

Czech Republic currently holds the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU.

Besides tackling the energy crisis, the EU leaders on Friday also pledged to protect their critical infrastructure in the aftermath of gas leaks from Nord Stream pipelines.

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Several leaks have been detected recently on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea near Denmark and Sweden, an incident reportedly being investigated as probable sabotage.