EU needs to cut energy use, boost supply – Michel

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BRUSSELS, Sept 16 (Reuters) – European Council President Charles Michel on Friday said the EU needs to go beyond its current plans to tackle the energy crisis to make sure people can afford their energy bills.

“It’s good proposals, but more will be needed,” Michel told reporters, referring to the EU’s plans to bring down energy prices for the bloc’s citizens and businesses.

“On prices, there is a proposal on the table… it is good but is it enough? I don’t think so, I think it’s important to accelerate in terms of the electricity market,” he said, while highlighting the need to rework pricing mechanisms.

The EU executive has proposed raising more than 140 billion euros ($139.4 billion) to shield consumers from soaring energy prices by skimming off revenues from low-cost electricity generators and making fossil fuel firms share windfall profits.

EU energy ministers will discuss those proposals on Sept.30 before national leaders of the 27 EU member countries meet a week later on the matter.

Michel, who chairs talks of the 27 national EU leaders, said the bloc needed to cut energy consumption as well as increase supply, a topic he discussed recently with Algeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

While he sealed no specific agreements, he said potential enhanced cooperation included increased energy supplies from Algeria to Spain, EU investment in upgrading gas links between Algeria and Italy, as well as a cable to carry electricity.

In Qatar, Michel said he discussed rerouting to Europe in the short term some LNG supplies earmarked for Asia.

He added that Saudi Arabia offered to have the EU invest in its plans to develop green hydrogen, while the United Arab Emirates proposed investment in its renewable projects.

“What they want to know is if we are ready to accept long-term contracts,” Michel said.

($1 = 1.0042 euros)

(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska and Bart Meijer; Editing by Edmund Klamann)

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