Ursula von der Leyen has fleshed out her vague announcements about how Europe intends to overcome the energy crisis. The head of the EU Commission presented five points that show that the market is left to its own devices less than ever.
These are times of crisis, when citizens need trustworthy institutions. And that occurs when communication is comprehensible. In the case of Ursula von der Leyen, it looked like this: On Thursday evening, the EU Commission President announced a gas price brake on the talk show “Maybrit Illner”, which was public but vague.
When our editors asked on Friday morning what exactly that means, there was initially no answer. When I asked again on Tuesday, I was told that something was being prepared and that we would know more after the meeting of EU energy ministers on Friday.
Now save articles for later in “Pocket”.
In addition, the site would currently be intensively advised. Tuesday evening, Ursula von der Leyen apparently surprised her own press office with an interview in the “Handelsblatt”, in which she already presented her plans.
According to Ursula von der Leyen, the Russian President is fueling fears of supply in Europe by reducing gas exports: “Putin is manipulating our energy markets and using gas supplies as a weapon.”
This is a “test case for our unity and solidarity” to which the EU Commission wants to react with a five-point plan. The aim is to curb the dramatic increase in energy prices. Today, these measures are being discussed further with Member States.
Surf tip: You can find all the news about the corona pandemic in the FOCUS Online news ticker
“We will focus on reducing peak consumption,” said von der Leyen. “Together with the member states, we want to shift as much electricity consumption as possible to periods of low demand.”
In this way, companies have an incentive to postpone automated industrial processes to off-peak times, i.e. into the night or on the weekend.
The idea is that demand is so low at night that the existing electricity suppliers can absorb the additional load. On the other hand, electricity is saved during the day, which means that less electricity from guest power plants is required.
The Germans are familiar with this idea from the third relief package presented by the traffic light coalition on Sunday. The background is that many electricity suppliers are benefiting from the increased electricity prices even though they do not produce with gas at all.
The traffic light coalition calls this “accidental gains” and would like to skim them off. From the consumer’s point of view, that’s fair, after all, the producers of green electricity, for example from solar and wind parks, benefit from the fact that the electricity price is based on the gas price, but they continue to produce cheaply.
For years, consumers have paid for the expansion of renewable energies through the EEG surcharge. For the time being, the EU wants consumers to benefit from these chance profits, “which the energy companies had never even dreamed of”, according to von der Leyen.
In Germany it has been decided in principle that there should be a price limit for all energy sources except gas on the electricity market, but some details, including the essential question of the amount of the limit, are still open.
However, there is a political problem at European level: if a country agrees to this skimming off of random profits on the electricity market, it cannot also levy a general excess profit tax. But they already exist in several EU countries.
The alarm bells are going off at companies like Eni, Shell or Total: According to von der Leyen, they want to pay a “solidarity contribution” in view of their billions in profits. Most of the questions are open here. The EU would probably like to avoid the impression that only producers of green electricity are being asked to pay.
German companies are already having massive problems finding suppliers who can supply them with energy. Unlike private consumers, medium-sized companies are not entitled to a basic service. There is a threat of widespread production stops with the corresponding consequences for the workforce.
This shows that when utilities get into financial difficulties, consumers and companies have a big problem. That is why the EU Commission wants to support the suppliers. In Germany, this has already happened through state aid to Uniper.
The Commission wants to adjust state aid law so that states can support their suppliers. “Our energy companies are essential to keep the lights on, houses warm and our economy running,” said Ursula von der Leyen.
The EU also wants to cap the price of Russian gas. Ursula von der Leyen made this announcement on a talk show last Thursday and raised the question of how exactly this should work.
According to the EU, pressure could be put on Russia by the fact that Putin cannot redirect his gas exports to other markets in the short to medium term. This is mainly for logistical reasons: there are not enough pipelines to Asia. So far, it has always been said that if the pressure on Putin is too great, Russia could turn off the gas tap.
In the meantime, this situation has arisen anyway – there are no more deliveries via Nord Stream 1. That is why von der Leyen proposes a joint approach by the EU countries when purchasing gas. A big goal, the discussions are getting heated.
But what gives hope: When it came to buying vaccines against Corona together and distributing them in solidarity, the states were able to pull themselves together in the end.
The article “von der Leyen now wants to mitigate the energy price explosion with 5 measures” comes from WirtschaftsKurier.