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Prime Minister Robert Golob at the European Council meeting

Prime Minister Robert Golob attended the European Council meeting held in Brussels on 20 and 21 October.

Discussions focused on the energy crisis and the war in Ukraine.

EU leaders reached an agreement on further measures to mitigate high energy prices. Prime Minister Golob stressed that “a major step forward has been made towards an immediate introduction of new market rules, and common long-term measures”.

The European Council, among other things, called on the Council and the Commission to urgently submit concrete decisions on the following proposals of the Commission:

- joint purchases of gas, using the EU Energy Platform which is also open for the Western Balkans;

- speeding up negotiations with reliable partners;

- a new complementary benchmark that will more accurately reflect conditions on the gas market;

- a temporary dynamic price corridor on natural gas transactions;

- a temporary EU framework to cap the price of gas in electricity generation;

- improvements to the functioning of energy markets to increase transparency and eliminate factors that amplify the volatility of gas prices;

- the simplification of permitting procedures in order to accelerate the rollout of renewables and the related grids;

- energy solidarity measures in case of gas supply disruptions, in the absence of bilateral solidarity agreements;

- increased efforts to save energy.

The Prime Minister said that the adoption of the price cap was crucial for Slovenia. “It is for the first time that the price cap was given a green light. So far, this has not happened. Although symbolic, this step is of great importance as it reflects an agreement that Europe intends to regulate natural gas prices in a uniform manner. A united position of the EU is the only way to minimise the costs for households, the industry and national budgets.”

The price cap will first be introduced in gas markets, while the proposal to cap the price of gas in electricity generation will be examined. If the price cap on natural gas delivers results, an intervention in the electricity market will not be necessary. Otherwise, a green light is likely to be given to the Iberian model of capping gas prices for electricity generation.

Prime Minister Golob expressed his belief that the first effects of the agreement could already be seen today, as market prices started to fall. This means lower costs for energy suppliers and lower costs for the state that would support the economy with subsidies: “Yesterday, a step was taken towards a falling trend on global markets. This means less money from the budget that Slovenia will have to earmark for its support to businesses so that they remain globally competitive," he added.

On day two of the meeting, the European Council discussed Russia’s growing aggression. The leaders were unanimous in their view that Russia had no basis in international law to take action on the territory of Ukraine, reaffirming their strong support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity. The European Council called on Russia to immediately withdraw its troops from the entire territory of Ukraine, stop all attacks and study the possibilities of bringing the perpetrators of crimes to justice. The leaders also strongly condemned the sabotage of critical infrastructure, calling on Belarus to stop enabling Russia’s aggression by allowing it to use Belarus territory. By way of conclusion, EU heads of state said that they would continue to support Ukraine for as long as necessary, providing political, military, financial and humanitarian aid and helping with reconstruction.

As regards foreign policy, the European Council held a strategic discussion on EU-China relations, taking note of the preparations for the EU-ASEAN Summit, the 27th UN Climate Change Conference in Sharm El-Sheikh (COP27) and the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Montreal.

The leaders also condemned the unjustified and unacceptable use of force by Iranian authorities against peaceful protesters, especially women and children, a condemnation of which Slovenia is a firm advocate. They welcomed EU’s restrictive measures against those responsible for serious human rights violations, calling on Iran to respect civil and political rights.

At the end of his visit, the Prime Minister reiterated that the agreement reached last night had already translated into a drop in gas prices: “By showing a united front, we sent a very clear signal to the markets and reduced prices and costs for the industry and the people.”