Czechs to propose extraordinary meeting of EU energy council

Czech Minister of Industry and Trade Jozef Sikela gives a news conference during an extraordinary meeting of European Union energy ministers in Brussels, Belgium July 26, 2022. REUTERS/Johanna Geron

PRAGUE, Aug 26 (Reuters) - The Czech Republic will propose an extraordinary meeting of the EU Energy Council as soon as possible to deal with soaring energy prices, Czech government officials said on Friday as they seek to build European support for energy price caps.

With energy markets at record highs this month, Europe is facing massive increases in energy bills driven by rocketing gas prices in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and governments are scrambling for measures to ease the burden on people and companies. read more

"We are in an energy war with Russia and it is damaging the whole EU," Czech Industry Minister Jozef Sikela said on Twitter.

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"In agreement with the European Commission and Prime Minister Petr Fiala, I will propose to convene an extraordinary meeting of the EU Energy Council at the earliest possible date."

The Czech Republic holds the rotating presidency of the EU, and it has already scheduled a regular meeting of the energy ministers for October.

Timing of the emergency meeting and other details were not immediately available, and the Czech Industry Ministry did not reply to questions.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said a move toward capping energy prices was needed, but the solution needed to be at the European level.

"I talked with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen today by telephone, I am negotiating support of other countries, I am in contact with other heads of government," Fiala said. "I am trying to reach or create support for finding a Europe-wide solution."

Russia supplied the EU with 40% of its natural gas before it invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24 and Europe's quickening energy crisis is coming as Russia has cut the amount of gas it sends. Prices have risen sharply on heightened concerns that Russia will further slash flows in retaliation for Western sanctions against it.

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.

The Czech government has turned to implementing a discount energy tariff for households, while other states have looked at price caps or cash handouts to help ease the burden of soaring energy prices.

The European Commission said this month it was "urgently assessing the different possibilities to introduce price caps for gas", without elaborating.

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Reporting by Robert Muller and Jason Hovet; editing by David Evans and Grant McCool

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