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EU closer to Greek views on gas price

EU closer to Greek views on gas price

Seven months passed between Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ letter to the European Commission last March 7 asking for a cap on natural gas prices to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s letter to the heads of the 27 EU members’ governments asking them to consider applying such a cap.

During that time, the Greek government had to work almost nonstop to convince the many skeptics and build alliances to overcome the resistance to its proposal.

This is not the first time that Greek proposals have gained wider acceptance. Early during the coronavirus pandemic, in spring 2020, Greece and eight other states submitted a proposal to create a fund to assist members to overcome the economic consequences of the pandemic.

The Recovery and Resilience Mechanism, which contributed decisively to mitigating the economic effects and support affected individuals and businesses was born of this proposal.

In 2021, Greece proposed, and saw adopted, the Digital Covid Certificate, which helped kick-start the tourist season that year after being almost wiped out in 2020. Greece was also actively involved in approving exemptions from the EU’s strict rules on government subsidies to businesses. Finally, last May, Greece proposed a windfall tax on power industry profits, which has now been enacted.

“Initially, the reaction to the [price cap] proposal was not very encouraging,” a senior aide to the prime minister told Kathimerini. “The prevailing opinion in the Commission and other EU bodies was to draw a plan for pooling gas procurements, while some countries took it upon themselves to create sufficient reserves, believing that a cap of prices did not concern them. Initially, some countries took the proposal to apply only to gas imported from Russia; still other worried that a cap at a very low price would create other problems for markets,” the aide added.

It was the protracted rally of natural gas prices to concentrate minds and reduce the skepticism.