Call from Brussels: We want to cap the wholesale price of

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European consumers need a cap on all wholesale gas prices, rather than a “political” cap on Russian imports, Belgian Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten told Reuters on Thursday.

Speaking ahead of emergency European Union talks aimed at lowering energy prices due to take place on Friday, Van der Straeten said Belgium wanted an EU-wide dynamic price cap for exchange-traded gas linked to Asian markets to ensure security of supply.

The price cap for Russian pipeline gas imports, proposed by the EU executive ahead of ministerial talks on Friday, has so far had a mixed reception among the bloc’s 27 nations.

Electricity prices in Europe have risen sharply since economies began to emerge from the Covid-19 crisis last year, fueled by cuts in gas supplies from Russia in retaliation for Western sanctions imposed following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Our intention is, first of all, to reduce prices. A cap on Russian gas will not reduce prices. A limit to only Russian gas is purely political. There is not that much Russian gas coming to Europe, so I don’t see the added value of this,” Van der Straeten said.

She added that Spain, Poland and Luxembourg are in favor of a cap, while Germany has reservations.

“We need to intervene at the wholesale market level… so that it can have an effect on energy bills,” she said, adding that the cap should be closely monitored and have a back-up mechanism for when global LNG prices exceed the EU cap.

The Netherlands, which is traditionally against market interventions, supports the narrower option, only for Russia.

Van der Straeten said energy ministers should give clear guidance to the European Commission to act to lower energy prices and that the cap could come into effect within days.

“It’s absolutely our intention to have this (in place) before winter heating really starts,” she said, adding that the price-cutting measure should take effect in October.

She said that joint purchases of EU gas must be promoted and that the bloc needs a reform of energy market prices that separates electricity produced from gas and that from non-fossil sources, such as nuclear power or renewable sources.

For now, using windfall profits made by energy companies – as proposed by the Commission – is acceptable, as it would give EU countries money for direct support for those facing high energy bills.