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EU agrees windfall vitality agency tax — however break up on gas-price cap

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EU vitality ministers on Friday (30 September) accredited a bundle of measures to intervene within the electrical energy markets and scale back excessive vitality costs, throughout a council assembly in Brussels.

However the principle subject of the day was how you can take care of the fuel value itself — and there are differing views on what’s the easiest way to proceed.

“We’re in an vitality conflict with Russia. The winter is coming. We have to act now,” Czech Republic’s business minister Jozef Síkela, whose nation holds the EU council presidency, implored colleagues forward of the assembly.

The greenlighted proposal, which was negotiated in lower than a month, consists of necessary energy financial savings, a cap on extra revenues from low-cost electrical energy producers akin to renewables and nuclear energy crops and a so-called “solidarity-contribution mechanism” for fossil-fuel extractors.

“It’s now essential that these steps are applied rapidly in order that they’ll begin having the supposed impact,” mentioned vitality commissioner Kadri Simson.

Below the brand new guidelines, EU international locations could be obliged to cut back electrical energy consumption by 5 p.c throughout peak hours — i.e. when energy demand is at its highest.

Power ministers additionally agreed to quickly cap at €180 per megawatt-hour (MWh) the value at which low-carbon electrical energy corporations promote energy.

They argued that renewables and nuclear energy crops have made “unexpectedly massive monetary features over the previous months” due to the function of fuel as a price-setting mechanism for the ultimate value of electrical energy.

Regardless of criticism of the danger of making a patchwork of measures that might hinder funding in renewables, ministers launched some flexibilities for particular person member states. These embrace the chance to set completely different and better caps for various kinds of electrical energy era.

Lastly, the settlement additionally features a levy on fossil gasoline corporations, protecting 33 p.c of taxable surplus income made in 2022 and/or 2023. Which means that fossil gasoline extractors’ windfall income from 2022 may be exempted from the market revenues cap.

The unique EU fee proposal says the solidarity contribution must be calculated over a three-year baseline ( 2019-2021), however governments have prolonged this to additionally cowl 2018.

That is seen by inexperienced teams as a “loophole” and a missed alternative to assist Europe’s most susceptible households and companies struggling to pay their hovering vitality payments.

“The EU and governments should tax all of those windfall income now, not subsequent yr. This cash is urgently wanted to guard essentially the most susceptible folks this winter,” mentioned Thomas Gelin, a campaigner from Greenpeace.

‘All eyes on Germany’

Limiting fuel costs is seen by many because the lacking piece of the puzzle.

“All these short-term measures are excellent, however as a way to discover the answer to assist our residents on this vitality disaster, we have to cap the fuel value,” mentioned Croatian economic system minister Davor Filipovic earlier than the assembly.

A rising refrain of member states is looking on the fee to return ahead with a proposal to restrict the value of fuel straight — protecting all imported fuel, plus fuel traded throughout the union. Supporters embrace Belgium, France, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Greece, Italy and Spain.

“All eyes are on Germany,” mentioned Belgian vitality minister Tinne Van der Straeten forward of the assembly, hoping Berlin could assist the proposal. “Germany is being constructive,” she additionally mentioned.

The fee has argued {that a} value cap protecting each liquefied pure fuel (LNG) and pipeline provides could be tough to implement and will pose dangers to vitality safety.

Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands have voiced comparable issues.

The fee is anticipated to current an motion plan on value caps for fuel in mid-October.

Three concepts

In an off-the-cuff doc, the EU govt has put ahead three concepts: setting a value cap on Russian fuel imports, negotiating a decrease fuel value with different suppliers like these situated in Norway, and establishing a ceiling on the value of fuel used to generate electrical energy within the EU market.

“Russia is a particular case. I imagine we may impose a value cap on all of Russia’s imported fuel together with LNG. Nonetheless, some member states see this as a sanction, and we do not but have a consensus on this step,” mentioned Simson.

Nonetheless, some international locations should not satisfied by the proposal.

Van der Straeten mentioned {that a} cap on Russian fuel is not going to have a serious affect on customers’ payments, declaring {that a} majority of nations are asking for an intervention on the value to have a direct answer for hovering payments.

The cap must be set at a degree that’s “excessive” and “versatile sufficient” to permit Europe to draw the required provides, Belgium, Greece, Poland and Italy argue in a word explaining their method, seen by Reuters.

“A wholesale fuel value hole is a legit choice, however it requires a radical intervention out there, which signifies that a number of non-negotiable situations need to be met earlier than,” mentioned commissioner Simson. Certainly one of these situations would require EU international locations to decide to saving fuel demand past the present voluntary 15-percent-reduction plan, she added.

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