EU summit in Brussels: dispute over gas, dispute over law

Status: 10/22/2021 3:06 a.m.

At the EU summit, the heads of state and government looked for European solutions to curb rising energy prices. At the same time, the dispute with Poland overshadowed the agenda.

By Michael Schneider, ARD-Studio Brussels

Sea bass fillet with fried fennel, citrus fruits and verbena foam. So it is on the menu of the EU summit, a little refreshment in a long night of negotiations. Because there are several crisis topics on the menu that the EU countries have to deal with. Europe’s heads of state and government are particularly concerned about the rapidly rising energy prices. More and more of them are calling for a European solution, above all the Spanish Prime Minister Perdro Sanchez.

Michael Schneider
ARD studio Brussels

Europe can influence the price of energy on three points, said Sanchez. On the one hand, thought must be given to decoupling electricity costs and gas prices, which is currently the rule. Second, Europe should think about buying gas together. And thirdly, the EU must keep a close eye on price speculation on the energy market.

Judicial dispute with Poland and rising energy costs determine EU summit

Markus Preiß, ARD Brussels, daily news 8:00 p.m., October 21, 2021

Merkel’s pro-business attitude

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen can well imagine that, she wants to at least have these ideas examined in order to ensure stable prices in Europe in the long term. Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is probably the last time at an EU summit, is completely different. And surprised her colleagues with a business-friendly stance on the subject of energy prices.

Opinions also differ otherwise: some countries want to promote nuclear power, others want to expand renewable energies even faster – and Hungary, for example, blames the EU’s climate targets for the high prices. In the short term, a common European solution does not seem conceivable. Energy policy is just a matter of the country. When the sea bass was served in the evening, the Spanish Prime Minister in particular was frustrated, according to close confidants.

Dispute with Poland overshadows the agenda

At dinner the second big crisis was likely to have dominated the table conversation: The dispute with Poland after the country questioned the primacy of EU law over national law. Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo complains about an issue that overshadows almost everyone else on the agenda.

It is a shame that we have to spend so much time on it. Time in which we could have dealt with, for example, energy prices, the future of the internal market or social justice. But it is important because it is about the heart of Europe. If you want to be a member of a club, with all the advantages – then you have to stick to the rules of the game. You can’t just say: these rules don’t apply to me.

De Croo wants to feel his Polish counterpart on the tooth: What future he still sees for his country in the European Union. Many other member states are also putting pressure on Warsaw. Corona reconstruction aid, for example, should remain frozen as long as the country does not comply with EU law. But the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki is stubborn. He says he refuses to give in to blackmail. And receives support from one of the group: Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who considers Poland to be the best country in Europe.

And any talk of sanctions, Orban said, is ridiculous. Poland fight for freedom. And the German position? Chancellor Angela Merkel is unusually conciliatory at what is likely to be her last EU summit.

The subject of Poland is no longer to be mentioned in the final declaration for the summit, this has meanwhile become known. When it comes to energy prices, however, a common line has been agreed. Commission President von der Leyen and Council President Charles Michel want to introduce them during the day

Dispute over gas, dispute over law: Difficult talks at the EU summit

Michael Schneider, ARD Brussels, 10/22/2021 12:34 a.m.

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