Friendly countries could show more solidarity in gas crisis, German econ min says
Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung
Some of Germany’s partner countries are currently charging irrationally high prices for supplying natural gas to the country since Russia has ceased to be an import source, economy and climate minister Robert Habeck has said. “Some countries, some of which are considered friends, partially charge astronomic prices,” Habeck said in an interview with the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung, adding this would “cause problems that we need to talk about.” Especially the U.S. could do more to help bring down prices in Germany and other countries in Europe, Habeck said. “The U.S. approached us when oil prices were high, leading to a release of national oil reserves also in Europe. I think this kind of solidarity would also work well for lowering gas prices,” he argued. The European Commission should address this in talks with the U.S., he added. The EU as a whole should make better use of its “massive” collective bargaining power and synchronise gas purchases to avoid outbidding each other and driving up market prices, the minister said.
High prices for gas and electricity are causing severe problems for the German economy, as many companies fear losing their competitiveness to cheaper production locations in the U.S. or elsewhere through their lost access to cheap pipeline gas from Russia due to the war in Ukraine. At the same time, many households across Europe expect to accrue massively increased gas bills this winter, leading to concerns especially in poorer households whether heating homes and using warm water remain affordable.