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ENERGY

Germany to fast-track disputed €200 billion energy fund

Germany aims to fast-track a controversial plan to create a €200 billion energy fund to shield citizens and firms from historic price shocks, according to a draft law seen Friday by AFP.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz pictured at the entrance of the Chancellery in Berlin on September 23, 2022. Photo: Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP

Sources said the legislation, including caps on power prices, could be presented to the cabinet as early as Monday.

The draft warns that if gas and electricity prices continued to surge without state intervention, “production stoppages for energy-intensive companies must be expected”, leading to a “downward spiral of the German economy”.

READ ALSO: German government pledges to subsidise rising electricity bills

France and key members of the European Commission have voiced concern about a go-it-alone approach by Berlin.

They are calling for EU-wide solutions to the energy crunch, aggravated by war in Ukraine that has seen key supplier Russia turn off the gas taps.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz has defended the package against the criticism, citing the potentially crushing economic blow of energy shortages this winter.

READ ALSO: German cabinet approves €300 energy relief payment for pensioners

He has also stressed that the €200 billion fund to finance support measures would be spread out over a few years until 2024.

The €200 billion is also to be pumped into an economic stability fund outside the government’s main budget, allowing the government to stick to constitutional debt rules that limit public deficits.

The head of the German Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Peter Adrian, underlined the need for extraordinary measures to weather the crisis in Europe’s economic powerhouse.

“We are threatened with a loss of prosperity on a scale that was unimaginable until now,” he told the daily Rheinische Post, noting that German gas prices were about 10 times as high as those in the United States.

READ ALSO: Gas bills in Germany will remain high despite price cap, warns economist

“If we don’t get that under control in the short term, we’re going to have to say goodbye to a lot of companies and their employees before the end of the winter,” he said.

Germany, which has been highly dependent on imports of fossil fuels from Russia to meet its energy needs, has come under acute pressure as dwindling supplies from Moscow have stoked fuel prices.

The country expects to sink into a recession in 2023, leading economic institutes said last month, citing the impact of skyrocketing energy prices.

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ENERGY

German energy firm RWE takes Gazprom to court over supply halts

German's RWE said Tuesday it is taking legal action against Russia's Gazprom over halted gas supplies, the latest German company to do so since Moscow invaded Ukraine.

German energy firm RWE takes Gazprom to court over supply halts

Following the invasion, Gazprom steadily dwindled pipeline supplies to Germany in apparent retaliation for Western sanctions on Russia, sending energy prices soaring.

Last week, German energy giant Uniper said it was seeking damages from Gazprom at an international tribunal, as the Russian company’s failure to deliver gas had cost them billions of euros.

READ ALSO: Germany’s Uniper takes Gazprom to court over halted gas supplies

An RWE spokeswoman confirmed to AFP the company had also launched action, but declined to give further details.

Gazprom’s failure to deliver promised supplies has meant that German companies, long heavily reliant on Russian energy, had to buy gas on world markets at far higher prices.

Financial daily Handelsblatt reported that the costs incurred by RWE were likely lower, at around €1 billion, than those faced by Uniper.

Uniper had far larger contracts, and has put its losses from the supply halts at €11.6 billion. Gazprom has rejected Uniper’s claims.

The company, Germany’s biggest gas importer, has agreed a deal to be nationalised after Russia’s drastic reduction in supplies pushed it to the brink of bankruptcy.

READ ALSO: How Germany became ensnared by Russian gas

It reported a €40 billion net loss for the first nine months of the
year, one of the biggest losses in German corporate history.

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