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Energy ministers revisit the issue of high energy prices

Met dank overgenomen van Sloveens voorzitterschap Europese Unie 2e helft 2021, gepubliceerd op donderdag 2 december 2021.

Meetings of energy ministers during the Slovenian Presidency have been chaired by the Minister of Infrastructure, Jernej Vrtovec. Ministers discussed measures to address rising energy prices and, in this context, the preliminary report of the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) on the developments on wholesale energy markets and the progress on the Fit for 55 legislative package.

Energy prices have risen sharply in recent months, causing concern among European citizens and the business sector. At the meeting, energy ministers discussed their experience with the European Commission’s toolbox of measures and assessed whether, in the light of the report by the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators, any additional measures might be taken. "The most important finding of the report is, without doubt, that there is no evidence that markets do not work, on the contrary, the report highlights the many advantages of the current market model for the final consumer, which has helped to mitigate the price increases, which would have been even higher in the case of a less integrated market," said Minister Vrtovec.

"The EU member states that have been most affected by the energy price surge have made some progress in tackling rising prices through measures at the national level. These have achieved good results in protecting consumers from excessive energy price volatility and in protecting the most vulnerable consumers. Most EU member states also consider the Commission's toolbox to be an appropriate framework for implementing measures at the national level," said Minister Vrtovec, adding that several EU member states stressed the importance of maintaining the current wholesale electricity market system.

"The fact is that a certain level of volatility will remain in the markets in these challenging times, but we need to achieve energy independence for the EU in the long run if we want to calm price volatility in the electricity market as much as possible. We can only help by increasing investment in renewable and other low-carbon energy sources, such as nuclear energy," said Minister Vrtovec.

In the afternoon, the ministers discussed the Fit for 55 legislative package, focusing on the directives on renewable energy and energy efficiency. Progress has been made in recent months, but many EU member states are still analysing the proposals and their impact on economies as a whole.

It is clear that renewable energy is the cornerstone of the energy transition and that efforts to improve energy efficiency need to be stepped up. At the same time, translating these common objectives into ambitious European rules that apply to all EU member states is a major challenge in an energy system that is undergoing a dynamic and fundamental restructuring. Flexibility in achieving ambitions is key.

Jernej VrtovecMinister of infrastructure

Jernej VrtovecMinister of infrastructure

According to him, EU member states expressed their support for renewable energy sources and energy efficiency measures in achieving the EU's overall decarbonisation targets. "Many delegations expect more flexibility if the most appropriate and cost-effective policies are to be developed. Flexibility is key as the characteristics of our energy systems are still very diverse. They also called for specific national circumstances to be respected and for administrative burdens to be limited as much as possible," concluded Minister Vrtovec.

Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council (Energy), 2 December 2021

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