EU Leaders Hold Divisive Summit On Energy Crisis
European Union leaders were heading into a two-day summit Thursday with opposing views on whether, and how, the bloc could impose a gas price cap to contain the energy crisis fueled by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and his strategy to choke off gas supplies to the bloc at will, Raf Casert and Samuel Petrequin reported for the Associated Press (AP).
Photo Insert: where Angela Merkel was the soothing voice often brokering a compromise during her 16 years as German chancellor, her successor Scholz is now at the heart of a division in the bloc.
At the opening of the summit, the need for rock-solid EU unity in confronting Russia will be highlighted by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who is expected to address the 27 national leaders by video conference from Kyiv, asking for continued help to get his nation through the winter.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said early Thursday that Zelenskyy shouldn’t have such worries. Reacting to Russian attacks targeting civilian infrastructure and spreading fear through cities with killer drones, Scholz said they amounted to “war crimes.”
“Even such scorched-earth tactics won’t help Russia win the war. They only strengthen the determination and staying power of Ukraine and its partners,” he told Parliament in Berlin.
The upcoming cold season will also be front and center at EU headquarters, where leaders will turn their own heat on in what is expected to be talks that will run deep into the night, with any outcome on a joint energy approach an open question.
Natural gas prices spiraled out of control over the summer as EU nations sought to outbid one another to fill up their reserves for winter.
Now, EU leaders will seek to increasingly pool their purchases of gas and set a temporary price cap to make sure an overheated energy market doesn’t return to haunt them again, Lorne Cook and Geir Moulson also reported for AP.
And where Angela Merkel was the soothing voice often brokering a compromise during her 16 years as German chancellor, her successor Scholz is now at the heart of a division in the bloc.
While many EU nations are ready to back a proposal to cap natural gas prices and keep it affordable for its 450 million citizens, Germany and the Netherlands have raised major issues about that, saying it would be unwieldy and could make sure that supplies just bypass the bloc.
Scholz told Germany’s Parliament that “a politically set price cap always carries the risk that producers then sell their gas elsewhere — and we Europeans ultimately don’t get more gas, but less.”