European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday the issue of high energy prices was serious, adding it was paramount that the EU invested in renewables over the long term to avoid future spikes.
“I think we have to be very clear that the gas prices are skyrocketing. But the renewables, the prices have decreased over the last years and are stable”, von der Leyen told reporters just before a EU-Western Balkans summit held in Slovenia.
“So for us it’s very clear that with energy in the long term it is important to invest in renewables that gives us stable prices and more independence because 90% of the gas is imported to the European Union”, she said.
European Union countries have enough gas in storage to go through the winter, but the surge in gas prices shows the need to quickly switch to renewable sources and analyse the idea of a strategic EU gas storage and joint buying, European Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said.
“Gas underground storage is above 73% across Europe. This level is lower than the ten year average, but adequate to cover the winter season needs,” she told European Parliament.
Speaking in a debate on the surging gas prices that hit the poorest EU citizens, impact business investment decisions and threaten to slow down economic recovery, Simson said she would present a plan to reform the gas market by the end of the year.
“By the end of the year, I will propose a reform of the gas market, and will review in that context issues around storage and security of supply,” she said.
She said that while the long-term response to the rise in gas prices was to increase the production of power from renewable sources, in the short term EU governments could provide targeted support to consumers, direct payments to those most at risk of energy poverty, cut energy taxes and shift charges to general taxation.
The Commission is to present a list of such measures that are in line with EU laws next week.