Austria Calls for Common European Gas Price Cap at EU Summit in Prague

PeoplePoliticians ♦ Published: October 11, 2022; 23:03 ♦ (Vindobona)

At the first meeting of the "European Political Community", the informal summit of EU heads of state and government in Prague, Austria attracted particular attention by wanting to define a common EU gas price cap. For Austria's Chancellor Karl Nehammer it was clear in Prague that there would be "no embargo via the back door" when it comes to Russian gas.

In Prague, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said there would be "no back door embargo" on Russian gas. / Picture: © Bundeskanzleramt (BKA) / Dragan Tatic

Politicians from all over Europe met in Prague at the invitation of Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala (for the current Czech EU Presidency). The first meeting of the "European Political Community" (EPC) in Prague brought together leaders from EU and non-EU countries and met "in a spirit of unity".

The heads of state and government of 44 states were invited to the first meeting. Among them were the 27 EU member states, the EU accession candidates (Albania, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia, the Republic of Moldova, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine), potential EU accession candidates (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Kosovo) and other third countries such as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Austria was represented by Chancellor Karl Nehammer.

In addition, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, attended the first meeting.

This summit aims to promote political dialogue and cooperation on important common issues and to strengthen security, stability and prosperity in Europe.

Austria wants defined common EU gas price cap

Austria's Chancellor Nehammer called for defining a common EU gas price cap. "We have to push down energy costs collectively, we cannot solve this nationally. The goal is to buy gas collectively at low prices and make it available to electricity producers," Chancellor Karl Nehammer stressed at the first meeting of the EPC.

"It is also important to define a European Union gas price cap to understand what it can do and how to implement it. We need to find agreement on the ideas on the table," the Austrian head of government-held. "I welcome the model introduced by Spain and Portugal, whereby states subsidize gas purchases for power plants, which lowers electricity prices for consumers. This creates a kind of decoupling of electricity and gas prices," Nehammer said.

On the occasion of the second day of negotiations in Prague, the Chancellor pointed out that there must be no embargo against Russian gas via the back door. "Because if we decide on a gas price cap to use it to support the electricity-producing industry, the supply of gas must not become scarcer. That means it needs proper negotiation and contracts." One goal, he said, must be to negotiate quantity with countries like Norway, "then set a price, buy gas and make it available to power producers." The EU-27's solidarity achievement, he said, lies in having more shoulders on which to share the burden.

EU's value system and economy

The Chancellor also commented on the new format of the "European Political Community" between the European Union and the European non-EU states, which took place "in a spirit of unity": "I do not believe that it will lead to stalling the EU rapprochement of the Western Balkan states. Because it must not replace the accession process. Rather, you need such formats to enable a connection to the value system and the economy, even if you cannot force progress. This can only be done through negotiations."

The goal, according to the European Council, is to "promote political dialogue and cooperation to address issues of common concern, strengthen security, stability and prosperity on the European continent." In Prague, Karl Nehammer also met with the Chairman of the Bosnian Presidency, Šefik Džaferović, and Northern Macedonia's Prime Minister Dimitar Kovačevski.

The informal summit of EU leaders discussed the European Union's further response to Russia's annexation of Ukrainian territories in violation of international law and the energy crisis. Critical infrastructure protection and economic development were also on the agenda.

In the future, meetings in EPC format will be held regularly, once or twice a year. The next meeting of the "European Political Community" is scheduled for Chișinău, the capital of the Republic of Moldova, followed by Spain and the United Kingdom.

Federal Chancellery of Austria