Olaf Scholz says Germany 'will manage better this winter'

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info

Europe’s biggest economy is trying to cope with surging gas and electricity costs caused largely by a collapse in Russian gas supplies to Europe, which Moscow has blamed on Western sanctions following its invasion of Ukraine in February. “Prices have to come down, so the government will do everything it can. To this end, we are setting up a large defensive shield,” said Chancellor Scholz, outlining the package.

Under the plans, which will be financed with new borrowing, the government will introduce an emergency price brake on gas and electricity and scrap a previously planned gas levy on consumers to avoid further price increases Nuclear plants in southern Germany, previously due to close by the end of this year, will be able to keep running until spring 2023.

The plan follows Berlin’s subsidy scheme introduced in July and approved by the European Commission to purchase large quantities of LNG.

The €5billion scheme was introduced to support energy and trade-intensive companies across industrial sector under the EU’s State aid Temporary Crisis Framework.

Critics of Germany’s move pointed out its privileged position to borrow more money to subsidise energy for consumers, whilst opposing a proposed price cap on Russian gas which would benefit other less economically privileged EU member states.

Berlin has suspended its limit on new debt of 0.35 percent of gross domestic product this year. Finance Minister Christian Lindner has previously said he wants to comply with the limit next year.

Mr Lindner said on Thursday Germany would finance the relief package by taking on new loans, adding that the country’s public finances were stable.

“We can put it no other way: we find ourselves in an energy war,” he said, adding: “We want to clearly separate crisis expenditure from our regular budget management, we want to send a very clear signal to the capital markets.”

The gas levy, which had been due to come into effect from Saturday and remain in place until April 2024, was conceived with a view to helping utilities cover the cost of replacing Russian supply.

However, the need for the levy came into question after the government’s decision to nationalise Uniper, Germany’s biggest Russian gas importer.

Alex Pigman AFP Brussels correspondent noted: “This is the EU right now: Germany massively borrowing to subsidise energy for citizens, a luxury that many other EU countries cannot afford without spooking the markets (or Germany)! And when others in EU ask Germany to support a market-based gas price cap, Berlin says ‘nein’.”

The 27 EU member countries are negotiating measures proposed by Brussels last week to attempt to contain an energy price surge that is stoking record-high inflation across the bloc and threatening a recession.

READ MORE: Economist behind Trussonomics explains reasoning in controversial plan

Diplomats from some European countries were confident EU energy ministers would approve the measures at a meeting on Friday – albeit with tweaks to the original EU plans, which Brussels said could raise €140billion

for governments to spend on helping consumers and businesses cope with soaring bills.

A deal would see all EU countries impose a levy on fossil fuel companies’ surplus profits made in 2022 or 2023, and claw back revenues that low-cost power producers make from soaring electricity costs.

But even before those measures are approved, countries are pushing Brussels for further action – specifically, a gas price cap.

Fifteen countries, including France, Italy and Poland, on Tuesday urged the EU to propose a broad price cap on all wholesale gas transactions.

BoE had to take action to stop mass pension funds insolvency TODAY [INSIGHT]
Truss rocked by furious Tory rebellion over ‘extinction-level’ economy [VIDEO]
‘Putin is a fool’ Intercepted calls from Russian soldiers show blunder [ANALYSIS]

The European Commission shared an analysis of various options to tame gas prices with countries on Wednesday evening, which struck a sceptical tone on a wholesale gas price cap – warning it could be complex to launch, require “significant financial resources”, and cause gas supply disruptions.

The Commission said, however, that the EU should impose more limited price caps on certain supplies of gas.

“I strongly believe we need a price cap on all Russian gas imports,” EU energy commissioner Kadri Simson said on Thursday.

Mr Simson said the EU also stood ready to introduce a separate price cap, specifically on gas used in power generation. A broader cap should only be considered if EU negotiations with its pipeline gas suppliers to reduce prices fail to do this.

“Several member states are becoming more and more uneasy about not seeing a concrete (EU) response,” a senior EU official said. So far, the Commission, which drafts EU policies, has not formally proposed any price caps.

Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark are among those opposed to a gas price cap – setting up a potential scrap among countries if the EU were to propose the measure.

Source: Read Full Article