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The game of the last EU summit before the summer, scheduled for Thursday 23 and Friday 24 June, is all about energy. A match that will see Italy as the protagonist. On the gas price ceiling, the consensus of the 27 continues to be lacking and the Commission’s proposal, on the horizon, is not yet there. For Mario Draghi, the measure remains a European priority and also has its own political significance, that of a counter-sanction to Russia which is gradually shutting off the taps on Europe. Certainly, no operational decision will come out of the summit. But in the latest version of the draft conclusions of the European Council, a reference to the price cap was inserted.
The day on which the storm is hovering is that of Friday, when the Eurosummit will take place first and then the session of the European summit dedicated to economic issues. The discussion, from several European sources, is anticipated as “serious” or “intense”, terms that in Brussels are usually used to describe a confrontation. ECB president Christine Lagarde will illustrate the foundations of the new anti-fragmentation shield to eurozone leaders. But not everyone will applaud and the Northern Hawks will reiterate their skepticism towards the new Eurotower intervention. In the conclusions of the eurosummit there is a clear reference to inflation: it will be emphasized that it is largely the war in Ukraine and the high energy prices that have caused it. Some capital, European diplomatic sources explain, also saw in this passage an indirect reference to the price cap. A solution which, however, was not enough for Italy. The negotiation on the “Economic issue” paragraph of the draft conclusions is thus restarted.
The pressing of Rome
In the text there will be a reference to “the use of gas and oil as a weapon” by Moscow and there will be negotiations on that at the price cap, and in particular to the conclusions of the summit of 30 and 31 May last, when the Council invited the Commission to explore options for keeping energy prices down, including a temporary price cap. Italy is increasing its pressure for the Commission to elaborate the proposal as soon as possible. And it is not excluded that Rome will present a non-paper (one of its written positions) to the Energy Affairs Council next week.
The role of Germany
However, European sources explain that an operational decision “will only come between September and October” and underline how, for some member states, with the gas cuts implemented by Moscow, the price cap “could worsen the situation”. Italy’s thesis goes in the opposite direction: the progressive stop to supplies from Moscow nullifies the fear that, with the price ceiling, the Russa could turn off the taps. A thesis that is confirmed in the words of the head of the International Energy Agency (IEA): the EU must be “ready in the event that Russian gas is completely cut off”, warned Fatih Birol. The European summit is called upon to provide the first answers. On the roof of Russian gas prices, the position of Germany will obviously be crucial, which remains substantially opposed but more open to comparison than a few weeks ago.
The enlargement to the East
Another hot topic of the summit is the enlargement of the European Union to other Eastern countries. The European Council has formally given the green light to the granting of candidate countries for EU membership to Ukraine and Moldova, on the basis of the Commission’s recommendations. Green light also to the “European perspective” for Georgia. “Today is a good day for Europe. Congratulations to President Volodymyr Zelensky, President Maia Sandu and Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili. Your countries are part of our European family. And today’s historic decision of the leaders confirms this, ”wrote the president of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen in a tweet. “It is a unique and historic moment, the future of Ukraine is within the EU,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote on Twitter.