Leaders and representatives from nine Mediterranean and southern European countries on Friday called on the European Union to come up with a more flexible gas price cap mechanism than the recently proposed cap of 220 euros ($232) per megawatt-hour.
The call at an EU-Med9 summit in Spain further highlighted divisions within the EU over the proposed cap. The bloc originally proposed a cap of 275 euros last month, but this was met with considerable opposition. Several EU members do not want any price cap.
Spain’s Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said EU-Med leaders agreed to work together so that the December 13 meeting of EU energy ministers can achieve “a cap on gas prices more dynamic and efficient”.
When the first figure of 275 euros was proposed, Spain and others said it was so high that the price was highly unlikely to reach that figure and therefore the cap mechanism n would ever need to be activated.
Spain and other countries want a much lower and more fluid cap, linked to a market index and which can be applied whenever necessary. This, they said, would help both countries and consumers more realistically.
The energy crisis triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this year dominated the summit. Leaders reiterated the need for the EU to build on European energy sovereignty and achieve independence from Russian fossil fuels.
French President Emmanuel Macron said Friday’s talks had produced “a real convergence towards the security of (energy) supplies and the reduction of gas prices”. He said the executives shared “collective support for joint purchases” of gas and aimed in particular to jointly conclude medium and long-term contracts for the next three to five years in order to bring prices down.
Macron said France hopes an agreement can be reached at Tuesday’s meeting of EU energy ministers for “a set of technical measures aimed at reducing prices… and limiting speculation”.
The EU-Med meeting in the eastern city of Alicante brought together leaders or representatives from Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Greece, Malta, Cyprus, Slovenia and from Croatia. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU Council President Charles Michel were also present.
EU-Med Group meetings began in 2014 and aim to develop consensus among participating nations on major issues concerning the 27-member EU.
Alongside the natural gas price cap proposed by the EU, the group discussed strengthening relations with countries across the Mediterranean Sea, tackling climate change in the region and migration.
Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela said managing migration by working with countries of origin and transit, as well as dismantling human trafficking mafias, was a priority.
The Mediterranean island country is a regular port for rescue ships that have rescued migrants trying to reach European countries like Italy, Spain and Malta, by sea from North Africa.
The day started with a summit between Spain, France and Portugal during which they finalized an agreement for the construction of a major undersea gas pipeline to transport hydrogen from the Iberian Peninsula to France and Portugal. Europe by 2030. The pipeline aims to make the EU more energy independent. .
Sánchez and far-right Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni were to have their first bilateral meeting at the summit, but Meloni had to cancel because she caught the flu, her office said Friday. Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani was present in his place.
The EU-Med9 agreed to hold its next meeting in Malta in 2023.
Associated Press writers Ciarán Giles and Raquel Redondo in Madrid and Angela Charlton in Paris contributed to this report.
The Independent Gt