By Kate Abnett and Marine Strauss
BRUSSELS – Germany, Denmark, Ireland and six other European countries said on Monday they would not support a reform of the EU electricity market, ahead of an emergency meeting of energy ministers to discuss the recent price spike.
European gas and power prices soared to record high levels in autumn and have remained high, prompting countries including Spain and France to urge Brussels to redesign its electricity market rules.
Nine countries on Monday poured cold water on those proposals, in a joint statement that said they “cannot support any measure that conflicts with the internal gas and electricity market” such as an overhaul of the wholesale power market.
“As the price spikes have global drivers, we should be very careful before interfering in the design of internal energy markets,” the statement said.
“This will not be a remedy to mitigate the current rising energy prices linked to fossil fuels markets.”
Austria, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Latvia and the Netherlands signed the statement, which called instead for more measures to save energy and a target for a 15% interconnection of the EU electricity market by 2030.
European energy ministers meet tomorrow to discuss their response to the price spike. Most countries are using tax cuts, subsidies and other national measures to shield consumers against the impact higher gas prices are having on energy bills, but EU governments are struggling to agree on a longer term response.
Spain has led calls for a revamp of the wholesale power market in response to the price spike, arguing that the system is not supporting the EU’s green transition.
Under the current system, the wholesale electricity price is set by the last power plant needed to meet overall demand for power. Gas plants often set the price in this system, which Spain said was unfair as it results in cheap renewable energy being sold for the same price as costlier fossil fuel-based power.
The European Commission has said it will investigate whether the EU power market is functioning well, but that there is no evidence to suggest a different system would have better protected countries against the surge in energy costs.