German econ minister calls for EU to coordinate natgas buying

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Finance Minister Christian Lindner and Economy Minister Robert Habeck attend a meeting in Berlin, Germany, October 4, 2022. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner/File Photo

BERLIN, Oct 5 (Reuters) - European Union member countries, afflicted by soaring prices for natural gas, should coordinate more to make the bloc a single energy buyer, German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said, and the United States should show more solidarity with European countries that supported America during periods of high oil prices.

Habeck, who heads the effort to wean Europe's largest economy off the once-abundant Russian gas that fuelled it through decades of prosperity, said the EU should make better use of its market power to keep prices in check.

The EU "should bundle its market power and orchestrate smart and synchronised buying behaviour by the member states so that they don't compete against each other and drive prices up further," he told the Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung newspaper.

Europe has been scrambling to cut its dependency on Russian gas since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine in February. with dramatic implications for Germany especially, which was the largest consumer.

"Some countries, including friendly countries, are raking it in," he told the newspaper. "The U.S. turned to us when oil prices shot up, and in response national oil reserves were tapped in Europe. That kind of solidarity would be good for cutting gas prices."

Earlier, Chancellor Olaf Scholz had told a Berlin news conference that gas exporters like the United States, Norway and Arabian countries had showed considerable willingness to work with Berlin on gas prices.

Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by David Gregorio

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