Czechs mulling using EU presidency to call summit over energy prices

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PRAGUE — The Czech Republic, which holds the European Union’s rotating presidency, is considering whether to call an emergency energy summit for the bloc to tackle soaring energy prices, including discussing price caps, a government minister said on Wednesday.

The EU is facing a surge in energy prices to record highs, leaving governments scrambling to find ways to help households and businesses feeling the impact.

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“The market has gotten out of control to a certain extent, market volatility stops reacting to good news and only bad news accumulates and pushes prices up,” Czech Industry Minster Jozef Sikela was quoted by CTK news agency as saying on Wednesday.

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“It is a problem in all of Europe, and of course if you have a European market and European problem, then the easiest solution can be found on the European level.”

Sikela said setting a maximum energy price on the European level would be one possible measure, and that the Czech Republic would support this if the EU decided to look at it.

The Czech Industry Ministry was not immediately available to comment.

Europe is facing a sharp rise in power bills driven by skyrocketing gas prices, as Russia has cut the amount of gas it sends to Europe and prices have surged on heightened concerns that Moscow will further slash flows in retaliation for Western sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine.

Russian gas giant Gazprom says it is a reliable supplier and has blamed recent cuts in gas flows on technical issues with its Nord Stream 1 pipeline.

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The Czech government is implementing a discount energy tariff for households while other EU states have also turned to measures like price caps or cash handouts to help people hurt by soaring utility costs.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Wednesday EU countries should agree a cap on the price of gas they import from Russia. Spain and Portugal have already limited local gas-based power prices, while France has capped electricity price hikes.

The European Commission said this month it was “urgently assessing the different possibilities to introduce price caps for gas,” without elaborating on what form such a cap would take.

Brussels said it would consult EU member states on price caps and report back with proposals in the autumn if they were needed.

Energy ministers from EU countries are already due to meet for a summit in October. (Reporting by Jason Hovet and Robert Muller in Prague, and Kate Abnett in Brussels; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Jonathan Oatis)



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