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PRAGUE — EU leaders left myriad questions unanswered Friday as they concluded a summit in Prague, delaying last choices on combating sky-high power costs to future conferences.
Friday’s gathering — which lasted for much longer than anticipated, reflecting the deep divisions amongst nations over how greatest to carry down power prices — made no concrete progress on a sequence of proposals, together with a controversial gasoline value cap.
Whereas technically the summit was an off-the-cuff gathering — that means the leaders may solely make offers in precept — the persevering with power discord emphasised the size of the problem dealing with European leaders. And with Russia solely escalating the conflict in Ukraine, the components driving up costs present no indicators of abating.
European Council President Charles Michel, who chaired the assembly, defended the work being accomplished, calling it “helpful” to have casual conferences with out the stress to make choices. That permits leaders, he mentioned, to suss out “what are the totally different opinions, the totally different sensitivities.”
But thus far, the one settlement appears to be that they should discover an settlement.
“There’s a widespread will for a standard strategy,” Michel mentioned. “We want strong EU cooperation.”
Regardless of that, nobody can agree on what that “widespread strategy” must be.
The stalemate is inserting an intense deal with the formal EU leaders’ summit on October 20 and 21. The European Fee confirmed it is going to current extra proposals earlier than the gathering, leaving member states jockeying for affect.
Some nations wish to reimburse folks for gasoline funds above a sure value. Others wish to merely restrict the value EU nations may pay for gasoline purchases. Nonetheless others have sought a mix-and-match of those concepts.
There have additionally been intense discussions about whether or not to lift joint EU debt to cowl folks’s spiraling power prices. However German Chancellor Olaf Scholz kiboshed that concept at a press convention Friday afternoon, insisting earlier EU pandemic restoration funds may nonetheless be redirected.
Scholz’s rejection is prone to rankle these already annoyed with Berlin’s choice to unveil a €200 billion fund to subsidize ballooning power payments. Some EU nations have grumbled that the transfer is thinly veiled state help destabilizing the bloc’s single market and leaving poorer nations within the chilly.
With out mentioning Germany immediately, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala, whose nation holds the rotating EU presidency and who was internet hosting the assembly, issued a warning.
“We have to adjust to state help guidelines,” he mentioned. “We are able to’t have nationwide options solely. We want European options.”
Equally, European Fee President Ursula von der Leyen, herself a German politician, mentioned: “We have now to maintain our single market collectively and keep away from fragmentation.”
Scholz has repeatedly careworn that the €200 billion would stretch over the subsequent two years, arguing that meant the quantity was not larger than what different nations like France had been doing.
Then there was the escalating spat between Germany and France over the MidCat pipeline, which might assist ship gasoline from the Iberian Peninsula by way of France to Germany and past.
France has opposed the venture, arguing it could take too lengthy to alleviate the present disaster and would merely perpetuate a reliance on fossil fuels. Germany disagrees with the timeline and argues it may assist ameliorate Europe’s power crunch.
French President Emmanuel Macron was evasive at his press convention when requested whether or not conversations had improved between France and Germany by the summit’s finish.
It’s France’s function, he mentioned, to “unite opposing views when there are tensions” — a reference to criticism over Germany’s €200 billion fund.
“On MidCat, it’s a pipeline between France and Spain that runs within the Pyrenees,” he added, portraying the choice as an environmental one. “So it’s not a disagreement between France and Germany.”
Earlier than the leaders even bought to those heated disagreements, in addition they needed to sort out one other fraught topic: Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed leaders once more by way of videolink — his second time in two days after showing earlier than a broader slate of European leaders on Thursday.
He urged the leaders — once more — to commit extra weapons to Ukraine, a sore topic for EU nations like Germany and France dealing with stress to up their arms shipments.
“I perceive — all of us would relatively spend the cash we spend on armaments on fully totally different targets — peaceable targets, social wants,” he mentioned. “However who and what is going to be capable to defend such targets and such wants?”
Talking after the summit, Michel underlined the EU’s help for Ukraine. However there have been few particulars about an EU plan to step up its assist for Kyiv.
Von der Leyen did point out the EU should up its monetary help. The subject is yet one more level of rigidity throughout the EU, as nations squabble over learn how to construction the €9 billion in monetary help the bloc has promised Ukraine.
“We must set up a really structured strategy,” she mentioned, emphasizing the necessity for “predictability — predictability of financing.”
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