The European Union will call an emergency meeting of energy ministers to discuss bloc-wide solutions to the spike in power prices.
The Czech Republic, which holds the European Union’s rotating presidency, will summon the gathering to debate “concrete” measures to tackle the energy crisis following an agreement with European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen, Prime Minister Petr Fiala said Friday.
The Czech leader didn’t elaborate on potential new steps, but earlier this week said he’ll discuss possible price caps with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Monday. The Czechs and some other bloc members are calling for a common policy approach as individual countries aren’t able to shoulder surging energy costs with local measures.
Europe is grappling with the worst energy crisis in decades, with spiking costs of gas and electricity driving inflation, undermining the euro currency and threatening to drag economies into recession as Russia squeezed supplies since its invasion of Ukraine six months ago.
Failure to contain the crisis risks spurring social unrest and political upheaval, if the supply crunch leads to blackouts and cold homes this winter. Europe’s politicians have already earmarked about 280 billion euros ($281 billion) to ease the pain of surging energy prices for businesses and consumers, but the aid risks being dwarfed by the scale of the crisis.
The Czech Industry Ministry said it’s looking for a specific date for the emergency meeting and wants to convene it “as soon as possible.”
Earlier this week, France reacted skeptically to the idea of setting limits on power prices, saying its situation is different from other European countries thanks to government measures offering protection against inflation.
Power prices are smashing records on an almost daily basis as Russia constricts the supply of natural gas ahead of the crucial winter heating period. French electricity for next year rose over 1,000 euros Friday, the latest record in a rally that’s seen the power price gain more than 10 times in the last year.
European governments have started to limit energy use, banning outside lighting for buildings in Germany and lowering indoor heating temperatures. In the UK, energy bills are set to soar in October after the energy regulator raised its cap on costs.
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