April 18. 2024. 8:44

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Germany’s gas tariff puts EU energy solidarity at risk, energy commissioner says

Germany’s levy on cross-border gas trading puts the EU’s energy solidarity at risk and hurts efforts to cut the bloc’s reliance on Russian gas, the bloc’s energy commissioner and deputy Czech PM told reporters on Monday (4 March) following a meeting of EU energy ministers.

The tariff is a legacy of the European energy crisis that peaked in 2022 after Moscow cut gas flows to Europe following its invasion of Ukraine and an undersea explosion shut the Nord Stream pipeline from Russia to Germany.

It had been “very clear” over the past two years that “all member states having gas storage filled… was not the burden of one country,” Commissioner Kadri Simson said.

The Commission issued EU-wide gas storage filling targets to shore up supplies ahead of winter 2022-2023. To try to recoup the billions it spent on this effort, Germany introduced what it termed a gas “neutrality charge” – a levy on cross border deals.

Italy is poised to follow Germany’s lead with its own extra charge.

“Unilateral national measures in the form of export restrictions or levies puts our energy solidarity at risk and may jeopardise efforts to diversify away from Russian gas,” she said.

“This is why I have been in direct contact with our German counterparts.”

The Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary in particular have been pushing the Commission to take action against the German levy. The Commission asked the EU’s energy regulator, ACER, to examine the impact of the tariff on gas markets.

Central Europe faces the end of Russian gas supplies with the expiration of the Russia-Ukraine gas transit agreement at the end of this year.

“The position of the Commission was pretty clear…It’s my feeling that if there is no solution then infringement might be started,” the Czech Republic’s deputy PM Jozef Sikela said, adding that France and Poland were now backing them.

“We also heard from Germany and they are taking the criticism seriously. Our target is to reduce gas supplies from Russia…and if it’s more favourable not to pay artificial transit it logically supports more volume from the east.”

Read more with Euractiv

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