EU leaders fail to reach consensus on energy response plan



European Union (EU) leaders struggled Friday to bridge significant differences over a natural gas price cap as they met at Prague Castle to discuss how best to deal with a winter energy crunch.

Fifteen EU states want a price cap on gas but did not agree on the details of how it should be done. Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands oppose any cap, worried that it would make it difficult to buy the gas they need to keep their economies running and dampen any incentive to reduce consumption.

The price cap is one of several measures the EU is preparing to contain an energy crisis in Europe that some fear could lead to rolling blackouts, factory shutdowns and a deep recession over the winter in economies already weakened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins said a gas-price ceiling would endanger security of supply. "So we cannot set the price so that no one would sell gas into Europe," he said.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said he hoped the "last hurdles" to a price cap would be overcome and the leaders should agree on a joint path of action to send two important messages.

"One to the energy markets, to make it clear we no longer accept these prices, we will not continue to pay this market manipulation. Secondly, an important signal to our populations, to our companies, that we are going to tackle the problem at the root," he said.

European Council President Charles Michel said no decisions were expected on Friday but hoped the discussion among leaders would lead to a deal when they next meet on October 20-21 in Brussels.