Prague – The Czech Republic will try to remove the issue of a possible ceiling on gas prices from Russia from the agenda of Friday’s meeting of ministers of the EU countries responsible for energy. At today’s meeting of the Senate Committee on the Economy, Minister of Industry and Trade Jozef Síkela (for STAN) said this. According to him, it is rather a political tool, not a solution to the current energy crisis in Europe. On Friday, the minister wants to discuss, for example, the separation of electricity and gas prices, tax changes for energy producers and distributors, or emission allowances.
“In my opinion, this is an unconstructive proposal. It is more about another variant of sanctions against Russia than a current solution to the energy crisis in Europe. And we do not want to prepare more sanctions now, but to solve the energy situation,” Síkela said. The Czechia, as the presiding country, will therefore try to remove the issue of a possible capping of Russian gas prices from Friday’s extraordinary meeting of the EU Council in Brussels.
According to Síkela, European ministers should discuss several options for solving the crisis on Friday. The Czechia will want to include in the negotiations, for example, the so-called Iberian model, which would separate the prices of electricity and gas on the market. According to the Czech minister, this would help especially in the case of electricity, the prices of which, according to his estimation, could be reduced to the level of about 200 to 400 euros per kilowatt hour. Conversely, in the case of gas, prices would probably remain at a similar level as they are now. At the same time, Síkela pointed out that this model can lead to greater gas consumption, which could threaten supplies in Europe in the event of a severe winter.
Another option is proposed by the European Commission, which wants to cap prices for some cheaper sources of energy, such as nuclear power plants. According to Síkela, tax adjustments for energy producers and distributors are also an option.
Síkela also wants to open a discussion on the possibility of limiting sales of emission allowances on Friday. According to him, for example, the annual reduction of the allowance program would not mean a deviation from the EU’s climate goals. “The situation is extraordinary, which is why it would also be an extraordinary measure,” he emphasized. At the same time, however, he added that he does not give the possibility of limiting the program with emission allowances much chance, because the European Commission is against it.
Síkela: MPO has measures for all energy consumers, compensation for companies
The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MPO) has almost prepared a set of measures to address the effects of the energy crisis for all groups of consumers. Among them should be, for example, compensation for companies whose profitability has fallen. This was said by the Minister of Industry and Trade Jozef Síkela (for STAN) at today’s meeting of the Senate Committee. According to him, the prepared measures should go beyond any agreements in the EU.
According to Síkela, any agreements reached by the ministers of the EU countries responsible for energy will not be enough to solve the crisis. “Therefore, we have almost prepared a set of measures to regulate and intervene in energy prices. These will be aimed at all groups of consumers – households, public services, and the corporate sector,” said the minister.
According to Síkela, there are options for possibly capping energy prices for households or public services. The state wants to act similarly towards them. At the same time, the minister pointed out that it will also be necessary to deal with interference in the state budget. This will depend on further developments on the energy market and EU agreements, he said.
The MPO has a proposal for compensation for companies. According to the minister, the previously proposed compensations for companies that fell into operating losses were not sufficient. The new proposal should thus offer the possibility of compensation even to companies whose profitability has fallen more significantly due to the current crisis. In such a case, the state would distribute the compensation according to pre-set criteria.
Síkela also repeated that the Czechia cannot leave the pan-European electricity market. “We do export electricity to neighboring countries, but on the other hand, we are 100% dependent on the import of gas and oil. Therefore, it cannot leave the electricity market and then demand solidarity in other markets,” the minister added.
The minister also focused on the upcoming creation of a state energy trader. Its main task will be to provide energy for the public sector. Síkela said the Ministry of Finance had invited the state-owned enterprise Prisko to apply for a license to be an energy trader. According to him, it is a temporary solution that is the fastest in the current situation. At the same time, however, the government will continue to prepare a variant of a new agency or organizational component of the state that would provide energy for the public sector. According to Síkela, the advantage of such a solution could be the setting up of a state trader who, in case of need, would buy energy at a higher price than the price at which it would subsequently sell it to the public sector. However, this requires a change in the law, which, according to the minister, may take a longer time. The government will also discuss the variants of the state trader today.
The senators asked the minister about the loans granted to the private groups Energetický a průmyslový holding (EPH) of billionaire Daniel Křetínský and Sev.en Energy entrepreneur Pavel Tykač about the deposits that electricity producers must make when trading on the energy exchange. Síkela reminded that the state had previously provided a loan of three billion euros (more than 74 billion crowns) to the semi-state company ČEZ. Therefore, according to EU rules, the state may not discriminate against private entities when providing support. At the same time, according to him, it is a step towards easing the situation on the market. Reserves are currently at record highs due to high energy prices. Síkela did not state the amount of loans for private companies.
EU Senate Energy Committees