Paris: Ahead of a European Union (EU) emergency energy meeting on Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron has expressed support for a reform of the continent’s electricity market involving more financial contributions from market operators and anti-speculative measures to help tackle soaring energy prices.
“The price of electricity must be formed more coherently,” he told a press conference at the Elysee Palace.
If the 27 EU countries won’t reach an agreement on Friday, this will be introduced “in any case at the national level”, he said.
Earlier this week, Germany had announced a levy on “the fortuitous gains” of energy companies to finance an aid plan worth 65 billion euros.
German and French wholesale electricity prices for 2023 reached new records on August 26, costing respectively 850 euros and over 1,000 euros per megawatt hour (MWh).
By comparison, the price was around 85 euros per MWh last year.
Europe’s energy security has been undermined by the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, with the reduction of Russian gas supplies and the low availability of French nuclear power plants sending electricity prices to record highs.
The recent halt of gas flows through the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline has been exacerbating the situation.
These issues will be at the heart of the EU energy ministers’ emergency meeting in Brussels.
European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen had earlier proposed taxing windfall profits of energy producers and capping the price of gas imported from certain geographical locations, including Russia.
At the end of August, she called for an “emergency intervention and a structural reform of the electricity market”.
A year ago, such reform plans met with opposition by several EU states, including Germany.
But France, Italy, Spain and several other member countries expressed their support for reforms already then.
The Czech Republic, currently holding the rotating presidency of the EU Council, has called for “a cap on the price of gas used to produce electricity”, while Belgium wants a tariff shield for electricity.
The average annual energy bill now amounts to more than a month’s wages for low-income workers in 16 EU member states, an analysis by the the European Trade Union Confederation showed.
The effect of the current crisis is worsened by the fact that some 9.5 million people in work already had difficulties paying their energy bills before the cost-of-living crisis began.