EU countries head for deal on energy windfall levies, split over gas price cap

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BRUSSELS, Sept 29 (Reuters) – European Union countries are poised to approve a package of emergency measures including windfall profit levies on energy companies on Friday, at a meeting where states will also lock horns over whether to cap gas prices.

The 27 EU member countries are negotiating measures proposed by Brussels last week to attempt to contain an energy price surge that is stoking record-high inflation across the bloc and threatening a recession.

Diplomats from some European countries were confident EU energy ministers would approve the measures at a meeting on Friday – albeit with tweaks to the original EU plans.

A deal would see all EU countries impose a levy on fossil fuel companies’ surplus profits made in 2022 or 2023, and claw back revenues that low-cost power producers make from soaring electricity costs.

“The member states have expressed rather broad support towards the text,” one senior EU official said.

One EU country diplomat said a deal was “within reach” on the measures, which Brussels has said could raise 140 billion for governments to spend on helping consumers and businesses cope with soaring bills.

But even before those measures are approved, countries are pushing Brussels for further action – specifically, a gas price cap.

Fifteen countries, including France, Italy and Poland, on Tuesday urged the EU to propose a cap on gas prices.

The European Commission’s response, shared with countries on Wednesday evening struck a sceptical tone – warning a wholesale gas price cap could be complex to launch, require “significant financial resources”, and cause gas supply disruptions.

“Several member states are becoming more and more uneasy about not seeing a concrete EU response,” the senior EU official said, adding that some countries may on Friday increase their pressure on the Commission to propose an EU gas price cap.

Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark are among those opposed to a gas price cap – setting up a potential scrap among countries if the EU were to propose the measure.

After discussing the issue with countries on Friday, the Commission is expected to share more details on possible new EU measures to tame gas prices – possibly, via a cap.

(Reporting by Kate Abnett; Editing by Alison Williams and David Evans)

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