Brussels warning: Next 5 to 10 winters

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The Belgian Minister of Energy, Tinne Van der Straeten, warned that “the next five to ten winters will be terrible for the European Union” if the necessary measures are not taken to reduce the price of natural gas, reports the BBC.

The Belgian Minister of Energy, Tinne Van der Straeten, wrote on Twitter that gas prices in Europe must be frozen urgently, adding that the link between gas and electricity prices is artificial and must be reformed.

“The next five to 10 winters are going to be terrible if we don’t do anything. We must act directly at the source, at the European level, and make efforts to freeze gas prices”, she declared.

Electricity prices also rose in Europe and reached record levels this week.

“We have to stop this madness that is happening right now in the energy markets,” said Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer.

Electricity prices must fall, he also said, asking the EU to decouple electricity and gas prices.

“We cannot let (Russian President Vladimir) Putin set the European electricity price every day,” he added.

The EU member states are requesting a ceiling at the level of the community bloc for the price of gas and its separation from the price of electricity.

EU states have been facing huge increases in energy prices since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, an action that resulted in severe sanctions for Moscow.

Countries that support Ukraine are trying to reduce imports of Russian gas and oil.

Russia, which supplied the EU with 40% of its gas last year, has in turn restricted deliveries to European customers.

Natural gas is still widely used to produce electricity, and as the price of gas has risen, it is an increasingly expensive process.

Significantly, this price is used to buy wholesale electricity even when it comes from much cheaper renewable resources.

Germany – the biggest importer of Russian gas in 2020 – has been scrambling to boost its gas reserves ahead of winter, despite Russia cutting supplies. Berlin aims to fill its gas capacity to 85% by October and has implemented energy-saving measures.

Economy Minister Robert Habeck said that such measures – along with finding alternative gas suppliers – allowed Germany to reach its goal earlier than anticipated.

He estimated that the 85% target could be reached by early September.