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Poland ready to outvote gas price cap skeptics if necessary, minister says

Poland’s Climate Minister Anna Moskwa said Warsaw is willing to outvote other EU countries to adopt a gas price cap if capitals can’t find common ground, even if it would prefer to “avoid” the scenario.

EU energy ministers meeting in Brussels on Thursday failed to formally adopt the European Commission’s energy emergency package after an alliance of countries — including Poland — said they would not agree to it until capitals agreed on a way forward on a proposed gas price cap.

The Commission’s proposal, set out on Tuesday, was lambasted by both sides of the debate: Countries in favor of a cap said it had been designed never to be triggered; while skeptical countries said the proposal risked undermining the bloc’s financial stability.

The Czech presidency has convened another emergency Energy Council before Christmas, most likely on December 13, to seek consensus on a redrafted proposal that can be signed off on by EU leaders meeting on December 15 and 16.

In an interview after Thursday’s summit, Moskwa told POLITICO that she “can see no reason why we can’t find a compromise” by the deadline, and that she was “open” to compromising on an exact figure for the cap.

But she stressed that if consensus isn’t possible, Poland would have no qualms about adopting the proposal by qualified majority — a process that involves getting 15 out of 27 countries to vote in favor, or support from countries representing at least 65 percent of the total EU population.  

Adopting a gas price cap by that mechanism would mean overriding opposition from countries that are skeptical of imposing any price cap — such as Germany, Denmark, Austria, Hungary and the Netherlands.

Although Poland “would like to avoid” such a scenario, she said, “qualified majority is European law and many very important decisions were taken up like that.”

Warsaw is also unhappy with the direction of negotiations on a G7 proposal on capping the price of Russian oil. Alliance members are mulling a cap of $65-$70 per barrel, but Poland — alongside Estonia — wants a much lower cap, reportedly as low as $30 per barrel.

Moskwa said Warsaw is “not much attached or fully attached” to that figure, but that the price “must be as low as possible” and as close to Russia’s production costs “as possible” to ensure it’s making minimal profit.

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