The EU is looking for ways to cut gas costs if the crisis in Ukraine hits energy supplies

Brussels is exploring how to protect consumers from a potential energy crisis as part of plans to protect Europe’s households, businesses and borders from the effects of Russia’s military escalation in Ukraine.

Diplomats told the Financial Times that the EU is discussing emergency measures to address the risks of rising gas prices, a possible migration crisis and threats to cybersecurity if Russia does invade Ukraine, as the United States and Western allies have warned.

The priority of EU emergency planning is to cope with any reduction in gas imports from Russia, Europe’s largest supplier, accounting for about 40 percent of consumption.

The European Commission is investigating how it could intervene temporarily to weaken the link between record gas prices and the price of wholesale electricity in the EU in the event of a gas crisis, a measure rejected by EU officials a few months ago during a record jump. the price of electricity.

The EU’s Energy Regulatory Agency has warned against disrupting the electricity unit’s pricing system, saying introducing instruments such as a price cap would jeopardize security of supply, forcing some suppliers to leave the business.

Officials told the FT that short-term plans to tackle the crisis would also include ensuring increased liquefied natural gas flows from major producer countries.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the FT in an interview on Friday that the EU must be prepared for “any scenario” with Russia and Ukraine – part of which is to do everything possible to find alternative energy sources.

“You would never trust a gas supplier who is unreliable,” she said. “This scenario would be very difficult for the EU, but the same is true for Russia with its one-dimensional economy. In such a situation, we would also do everything we can to alleviate the pressure on households and consumers. “

Emergency plans are due to be presented in EU capitals next month, although an emergency summit will be convened sooner if Moscow increases its military threats.

Officials said discussions are likely to include how to deal with possible flows of refugees from Ukraine to neighboring EU countries. Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania border Ukraine.

The EU’s dependence on Russian gas has long been seen as a brake on the bloc’s ability to impose criminal sanctions on Russia. Senior EU officials have in recent weeks launched diplomatic offensives against major liquefied natural gas producers, with the United States, Azerbaijan and Qatar calling for additional supplies.

Following discussions in Baku on Friday, EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said Azerbaijan had shown “a clear readiness to support the EU in the event of a gas cut-off”.

This week, she is due to hold talks with the United States on the country’s capacity for liquefied natural gas. The EU also plans to launch discussions with Nigeria as it seeks ways to expand its sources of liquefied natural gas supplies.

The Commission said Brussels was working on ways to “make our energy markets even more sustainable and work in the most optimal way”.

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