During an emergency meeting in Brussels, Belgium, on Thursday, European Union leaders failed to agree on a natural gas price cap, as 450 million citizens face massive hikes in utility costs this winter.
The milder autumn temperatures enjoyed by European households are quickly fading as winter takes hold across the continent. Predictions for a colder winter than originally forecasted are raising the alarm among both citizens and policy makers, according to Bloomberg. Europe’s energy ministers disagree, however, on how best to shield citizens from the impact of the energy crisis, the AP reported.
The hotly contested topic during Thursday’s meeting was a natural gas price cap, according to the AP. Ministers differed on when and how a price cap on gas purchases should go into effect.
Over the last year, we have rapidly reduced our dependence on Russian gas while protecting Europe’s energy security.
We have diversified our energy supplies, reduced our consumption and filled the EU gas storage by more than 95%.
— European Commission 🇪🇺 (@EU_Commission) November 24, 2022
Nations like Greece, Spain, Belgium, France, and Poland are seeking cheaper gas to soften household bills, according to the AP. Germany and the Netherlands meanwhile believe supplies are at risk if a cap stops EU countries from purchasing gas above a certain price, the outlet noted. High natural gas and electricity prices have plagued Europe since Russia drastically cut gas supply to Europe.
“It’s already minus 10 (Celsius) in Poland,” Polish energy minister Anna Moskwa said, according to the AP. “It’s winter now.”
Failure to find consensus on a gas price cap also kept member nations from finalizing plans for joint gas purchases and a solidarity mechanism, all included in the package discussed, the AP reported. Ministers from all 27 EU nations will convene again in another emergency meeting set for Dec. 13.
Europeans are not the only ones suffering beneath the weight of the continent-wide rise in utility costs. The Pentagon announced in June a reduction to overseas-cost-of-living allowance (COLA) for US military families stationed in Germany, even as utility prices continue to rise, Military.com reported. Gas prices in Germany have risen by an average 173%, the outlet noted.