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Tensions surface over energy prices as EU summit draws to a close

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By Euronews
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European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, after an EU summit in Brussels
European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, after an EU summit in Brussels   -   Copyright  Olivier Matthys/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

A two-day EU leaders summit in Brussels has come to an end. The talks centered largely on strategies aimed at dealing with Europe's dependency on Russian energy.

President Biden had praised western allies for their unity in the face of President Putin's military aggression. But after lengthy discussions in the European Council, tensions appeared to surface.

The European Union summit has been much longer and tense than expected. Heads of State and Government were trying to find ways to contain the skyrocking raise of energy prices. And there was a clear division between those that were for and against intervening in the energy market.

Finally an arrangement was found for Spain and Portugal, which were asking for a temporary cap on electricity prices.

"The Iberian Peninsula has a very special situation. There the energy mix is with a high load of renewables. This is very good. And with very few interconnections only. And therefore we agreed on a special treatment that is possible for the Iberian Peninsula so that the Iberian Pensinsula can deal with this very specific situation they are in," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez was one of the most forceful, at one point even leaving the meeting room. Among the most reluctant countries to accept his proposals was the Netherlands

But during the summit, other decisions were taken. EU leaders want the European Commission to negotiate the common purchase of gas in the name of the 27 member states, in order to be able to get better prices.

And there was also an agreement on the need of increasing the levels of gas storage in Europe ahead of next winter.

"75% of the global pipeline gas market is the European market. So we have an enormous purchasing power. Therefore I welcome that we will now use our collective bargaining power. Instead of outbidding each other and driving prices up we will pool our demand," said von der Leyen.

The war in Ukraine is one of the reasons for the rise in energy prices. And everybody understands that Europe must be more autonomous and less dependent on Russian gas. Also because it is one of the main sources of income for Moscow.