EU countries push to keep their own energy crisis measures

Pipes at the landfall facilities of the ‘Nord Stream 1’ gas pipeline in Lubmin, Germany, July 21, 2022. REUTERS/Annegret Hilse/File Photo

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BRUSSELS, Sept 23 (Reuters) – European Union countries are pushing for guarantees that they can keep their own windfall profit levies on energy companies, and retain the option to impose even tougher measures, alongside bloc-wide measures proposed by Brussels.

The EU’s 27 countries are negotiating emergency proposals put forward by the bloc’s executive last week. The aim is for energy ministers to approve a deal at a Sept. 30 meeting.

The countries’ latest compromise proposal, seen by Reuters on Friday, would not require states to apply the EU’s proposed windfall profit levy on fossil fuel firms, if they already have “equivalent” national measures in place.

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Italy is among the countries with such a levy.

Countries could also impose a windfall profit levy on fossil fuel companies of above 33% – the proposed EU rate – if they choose, to raise more cash to help consumers and businesses cope with soaring energy prices, said the proposal drafted by the Czech Republic which currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency.

The member states also want guarantees that the EU’s plan to recoup excess revenue from low-cost power generators will not prevent them from limiting these generators’ revenue even further nationally.

“Given that the generation mix and the cost-structure of power-generating facilities differ greatly among Member States, they should be allowed to maintain or introduce national crisis measures,” said the proposal, which could still change.

By introducing bloc-wide measures, Brussels hopes to overlay the patchy support national governments have put in place – which has seen richer EU countries far outspend poorer ones in plowing cash into ailing companies and handing out cash to consumers struggling with bills.

Diplomats from some EU countries were hopeful for a deal next week, but said this would only happen if countries were allowed to keep their national crisis measures.

Brussels will also lay out plans for further emergency EU measures next week – including emergency liquiduity for energy firms, and ways to reduce gas prices. Some EU officials were doubtful this would take the form of a price cap, an idea that has split EU states.

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Reporting by Kate Abnett; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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