Draghi leads push for common EU response to energy crisis
The leaders of Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece have called Friday for a common EU strategy to ensure the bloc’s energy security after the Ukraine conflict sent prices soaring.
The prime ministers of Spain and Portugal participated in person in the meeting in Rome, while Greece’s leader, who has tested positive for COVID-19, joined by a video hookup from Athens.
In statements to reporters following their discussions, the four leaders said they agreed on the pressing need for a European Union-wide response on rising energy prices emerge from this week’s European Council meeting in Brussels.
Prices for gas and electricity were already soaring in Europe and elsewhere even before Russia began the war against its neighbor last month.
Draghi has been pushing for EU-wide stockpiling of energy resources plus a deal for all 27 countries in the bloc to cap gas prices.
“The invasion of Ukraine by Russia opened up a period of strong volatility for the markets for raw materials, gas and oil,” which were already high in price before the war, Draghi said. “We must intervene right away. We all have the impression that something substantial, significant must be done right away” by all EU members.
“Europe reacted united to the invasion. Now it must find the same determination and unity” on energy, the Italian premier said.
“A common market in energy is beneficial to all.”
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said the four Mediterranean leaders “commit ourselves to diversifying energy sources as fast as possible.” And action is needed immediately on prices, Sanchez said, noting that “small businesses and citizens can’t bear” the soaring costs of gas and electricity.
Portuguese Premier Antonio Costa said this week’s meeting in Brussels “must be a European Council of immediate decisions,” so that Europe’s recovery, after the damage dealt by the pandemic, is not interrupted.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, sounded a warning that high prices for heating and electricity might lead to “re-awakening the nightmare of populism” on the European continent.
The European Commission has said it plans to vastly reduce Russian gas imports by tapping new gas supplies, ramping up reserves for next winter and accelerating efforts to be more energy efficient.