Czech trade minister slams EU’s slow response to energy crisis

Czech Republic's Minister for Industry and Trade Jozef Sikela speaks with the media as he arrives for a meeting of EU energy ministers in Brussels on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
By M B
2 Min Read

The European Commission is proceeding too slowly in solving the energy crisis, Czech Minister of Industry and Trade Jozef Síkela said recently in an interview with the Financial Times.

He warned that insufficient steps could worsen the energy crisis next year and cause economic damage that would undermine public support for Ukraine. However, he praised the measures taken so far to reduce gas demand and to develop energy infrastructure.

Síkela said it is necessary to maintain social order and ensure that Russian President Vladimir Putin cannot cause social unrest or a recession in the European economy. The Czech minister expressed his disappointment that the European Commission has still not presented more detailed information on how the natural gas price ceiling could work, despite requests from EU member states.

On Tuesday, Síkela met with selected members of the European Commission in Brussels to discuss energy plans and other topics for the rest of the Czech presidency of the Council of the European Union. The key point was preparing another set of EU measures against high energy prices, which member countries could approve on Nov. 24.

The umpteenth extraordinary meeting of ministers responsible for energy since the beginning of the Czech presidency was convened at the end of the month with the aim of approving the set of interventions presented by the European Commission in October. The plan would pave the way for joint gas purchases; it also includes new rules on solidarity between member states in the event of critical shortages and outlines a mechanism against extreme price swings on the EU’s main gas trading exchange. Straightforward price capping, which has been widely discussed in recent months, is not in the package.

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