BERLIN — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Friday criticized a proposal to cap the price on all gas imports to the EU, arguing that countries pushing such an idea had not “considered” the consequences of such a radical step.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo told POLITICO on Thursday that he backs a “broad” price cap on all gas imports.
Other countries like Italy, Poland and Greece also support the idea, which would be much further-reaching than a proposal by the European Commission to only cap the price on imports of Russian pipeline gas.
Asked by POLITICO about this push for a global gas price cap during a press conference with European Council President Charles Michel in Berlin, Scholz expressed strong skepticism.
“We have friends in Norway who supply us with a lot of gas, we have friends in the U.S. who supply us with gas. We know that others all over the world are doing that. And this is something that is outside the jurisdiction of the European Union, if I may put it that way,” the chancellor said.
There’s concern in Berlin that the EU has no legal jurisdiction to force foreign gas suppliers to lower their prices, and that any such cap could simply cause them to divert gas shipments to other parts of the world.
“The solutions and the proposals are therefore not as obvious as they appear to some people. I think we really need hard work there,” Scholz said.
Even just aiming the measure at Russian gas might provoke the Kremlin to halt its much-reduced shipments — which could be a problem for countries in Central Europe still receiving gas from Russia, Scholz warned.
“For Germany, it is clear that we always take into account the situation of member states,” Scholz said. “We will listen carefully to what the member states have to say that still obtain gas from Russia on a large scale.”
If the Kremlin turns off the taps, Germany would have to share gas with neighbors under EU rules, leaving less for itself to get through this winter.
This article is part of POLITICO Pro
The one-stop-shop solution for policy professionals fusing the depth of POLITICO journalism with the power of technology
Exclusive, breaking scoops and insights
Customized policy intelligence platform
A high-level public affairs network