EU revolt as France and Germany go head-to-head over energy crisis: 'Undermine our system'

Member states including France and Spain have called on the European Union to reform its energy market in a bid to save it from collapse. The global energy crunch has already caused gas prices to rise more than 600 percent this year and experts fear the EU will experience a full-blown crisis this winter. However, European ministers clashed on Thursday when a coalition of member states, including Germany, opposed calls to reform the bloc’s market rules.

Coming out of the pandemic, the world has experienced an increased demand for energy and raw resources, including gas and oil.

As supplies dwindled and suppliers struggled to keep up with demand, consumers across the continent faced exorbitant energy bills and the dreaded possibility of fuel poverty this winter.

After reaching record highs in October, gas prices have stabilised somewhat but rolling blackouts could still cripple the bloc if winter proves to be particularly bitter.

The crisis has also touched the UK where nearly 30 energy suppliers have gone bust, leaving millions of customers in a state of uncertainty.

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Despite this, the EU’s 27 member states have failed to find a unilateral way out of the chaos.

Earlier this year the EU released its “toolbox” for member states to access.

It included powers that would allow countries to implement short- and medium-term measures, such as reducing tax and incentivising the adoption of green energy purchase agreements.

Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said: “As we emerge from the pandemic and begin our economic recovery, it is important to protect vulnerable consumers and support European companies.”

Many states, however, feel not enough has been done to address the situation and have called for widespread reforms to the EU’s energy market.

The move was openly opposed in a joint statement signed by Germany, Austria, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Latvia, Estonia and Finland.

The nine member states said: “We cannot support any measure that would represent a departure from the competitive principles of our electricity and gas market design.

“Deviating from these principles would undermine the cost-effective decarbonisation of our energy system, jeopardise affordability and risk security of supply.”

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The statement was countered by France, Italy, Spain, Greece and Romania who urged the EU to protect consumers from wild price swings.

The five member states have also called on the EU to adopt joint gas purchases in a bid to form strategic gas reserves.

Ms Simson has since said the European Commission will propose a framework by which member states could purchase strategic gas stocks.

But this is not the first time member states have broken ranks with the EU’s big hitters.

In mid-October, French President Emmanuel Macron led a coalition of 10 nations calling on the EU to update its “green taxonomy”.

The nations pleaded the case for nuclear power as an “affordable, stable and independent” source of energy that could strengthen the bloc’s market.

Germany has a long history of opposing nuclear power, particularly after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.

Mr Macron’s alliance wrote in an open letter: “We need nuclear energy. This is for all of us a key and only means for a low-carbon future.”

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