Italy's Draghi calls for EU price cap on Russian gas

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi addresses the Senate ahead of a confidence vote for the government after he tendered his resignation last week in the wake of a mutiny by a coalition partner, in Rome, Italy July 20, 2022. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

ROME, Aug 24 (Reuters) - European Union countries should agree a cap on the price of gas imported from Russia to help ease the burden of rising prices on businesses and households, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Wednesday.

Draghi accused Russia of using gas supplies as a weapon against Ukraine and its European allies after its invasion six months ago, a charge Moscow denies.

"The Italian government has pressed hard at the European level for a maximum ceiling on the price of Russian gas that we import," Draghi told a conference in the Italian town of Rimini.

"Some countries continue to oppose this idea because they fear that Moscow could interrupt supplies," added Draghi, who will step down after a national election next month.

"But the many blocks on supplies of Russian gas this summer have shown the limits of that position," he said.

Draghi said the issue would be discussed at the next meeting of EU leaders and he also called for steps to be taken to decouple the gas price from the price charged for electricity.

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

The next summit of EU leaders is scheduled for October.

Draghi said Italy would be free of Russia gas imports by autumn 2024 if two planned regasification plants come on line as planned by then.

Italy had over the last few months already halved its reliance on Russian gas, which had accounted for 40% of its gas imports last year, he added.

Reporting by Keith Weir Additional reporting by Kate Abnett; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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