Brussels examining gas, electricity market interventions

The European Commission is considering major interventions for the natural gas and electricity wholesale markets ahead of an upcoming EU summit scheduled for March 24 and 25, but has yet to receive the backing of Germany, the Netherlands and other EU member states of the north.

Should the objections raised by such member states be overcome, the European Commission will, for the first time, proceed with major intervention in the energy market, leaving final decisions for the EU-27 leaders.

In addition, the European Commission is expected to soon announce further details on its toolbox of energy market measures that will be available to EU member states for individual application.

The European Commission is currently examining whether market speculation is driving up prices at Europe’s biggest gas hub, the Dutch TTF, and to what extent participants are trading with physical quantities or titles. The EU is considering to eliminate participants from any trading activity at this exchange if they do not possess actual gas quantities.

Brussels is also considering market interventions in wholesale electricity markets so that producers are not paid in accordance with marginal price levels but based on prices linked to their variable costs. If introduced, this measure will not be applied universally. Instead, it will be up to individual EU member states to decide on whether to adopt it or not.

The European Commission is also looking to temporarily tax windfall profits and emissions trading system (ETS) earnings.

Brussels may also detach electricity prices from gas prices, as has been proposed by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.