EU countries should set a price cap on Russian natural gas and seek a “solidarity contribution” from European oil and gas companies making extraordinary profits as the war in Ukraine drives up energy costs, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday.
With winter approaching, the 27 EU members are struggling to contain an energy crisis that could lead to rolling blackouts, shuttered factories and a deep recession. Russia has already cut gas supplies partially or entirely to 13 EU countries that use the fuel to heat homes, generate electricity and run factories.
“We are facing an extraordinary situation because Russia is an unreliable supplier but also because Russia’s actively manipulating the gas market,” von der Leyen told reporters in Brussels. “We must cut Russia’s revenues, which (President Vladimir) Putin uses to finance his atrocious war in Ukraine.”
She declined to recommend any price cap levels, saying that should be agreed upon during emergency talks among EU energy ministers on Friday. The bloc’s executive arm is putting a raft of proposals on the table for the ministers to discuss.
Von der Leyen said the commission, which proposes EU rules and policies, noted that oil and gas companies have made “massive profits”. A European drought is fuelling higher electricity demand and limiting the production of hydropower, just as Russia is wielding its energy might. “We will therefore propose a solidarity contribution for fossil fuel companies,” von der Leyen said.