North-South gap remains, crisis solution unlikely soon

All developments suggest Europe may need to cope without a common energy solution this coming winter as there is nothing to suggest authorities are close to reaching an agreement at the extraordinary Council of Energy Ministers on November 24.

If so, any decision making will be postponed until the regular Council of Ministers, scheduled for December 19, or passed on to the Swedish EU rotating presidency, which will succeed the Czech presidency on January 1.

Even though the European Commission is reportedly speeding up procedures for a temporary gas cap, following a warning by 15 member states to veto the overall energy package, the chances of a gas cap being ready by the forthcoming meeting of energy ministers are very slim.

Disagreement between the EU 27 remains, dividing Europe’s north and south. Germany insists the introduction of even a flexible price cap could drive gas suppliers out of European markets.

The willingness of European authorities to take action has weakened as the risk of an out-of-control energy crisis has receded. The continued de-escalation of gas prices (just under €114/MWh yesterday) may be good news for households and businesses, but it has led the EU towards a general complacency.