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‘It’s a bad joke’: Energy ministers blast proposed EU gas cap



‘It’s a bad joke’: Energy ministers blast proposed EU gas cap

EU power ministers criticised the European Fee’s newest proposal to determine the first-ever EU-wide cap on gasoline costs as unfit and a “unhealthy joke” forward of a gathering in Brussels.

Their disagreements over the proposed cap, which is excessive on the power ministers’ agenda, might delay the approval of two separate packages of emergency measures to deal with the power disaster.

“It is completely unenforceable, inefficient and out of scope,” Teresa Ribera, Spain’s minister for the ecological transition, stated on Thursday morning. “It is a unhealthy joke.”

Her Maltese counterpart, Miriam Dalli, stated the cap, as designed by the European Fee, was “not match for goal” and “positively not dynamic in nature.”

“The concurrent situations which might be being imposed makes it unbelievable or virtually subsequent to not possible to really set off this corrective mechanism,” Dalli instructed reporters. “That’s not what we requested for.”


In the meantime, the Netherlands, a rustic staunchly against any worth intervention, stated the instrument was “flawed” and doubtlessly “dangerous” to the EU’s safety of provide and monetary stability.

“Extra homework must be executed,” stated Dutch Power Minister Rob Jetten.

The Czech Republic, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU Council, meant to carry a dialogue across the worth cap and transfer forward with two separate laws: one about joint gasoline purchases and a second on faster-permitting guidelines for renewable applied sciences.

However a gaggle of 15 pro-cap international locations, that are deeply unhappy with the European Fee’s draft, pushed to hyperlink the worth cap with the opposite two packages and safe the joint approval of the three measures at a later stage, as soon as amendments have been secured.

Luxembourg, Austria, Finland, Denmark, Eire, Estonia and the Netherlands opposed this concept, diplomats instructed Euronews, however the Czech Republic appeared to just accept the compromise and convene a brand new extraordinary assembly in mid-December. 


On the core of the dispute is the draft unveiled simply two days in the past by the European Fee.

The chief has designed a “last-resort” cap that can apply to the Dutch Title Switch Facility (TTF), Europe’s essential hub for gasoline commerce. The platform has seen abrupt ups and down since Russia launched the invasion of Ukraine and disrupted world power markets.

The proposed cap shall be routinely activated however provided that two key situations are met:

  1. If TTF costs attain or surpass €275 per megawatt-hour for at the least two weeks.
  2. If TTF costs are €58 greater than the market reference of liquefied pure gasoline (LNG) throughout at the least 10 consecutive buying and selling days.

On high of that, the Fee launched a sequence of “safeguards” that may outright droop the mechanism in case of unexpected and undesirable penalties, corresponding to a drop in provides or a lack of liquidity.

“We’re able to facilitate an settlement and assist handle issues,” stated Kadri Simson, European Commissioner for power. “That is an extraordinary device for extraordinary occasions.”

Value vary below query

For the 15 member states who’ve spent the final months advocating for a forceful and far-reaching intervention, the situations are so stringent and particular that the cap shall be rendered powerless.


“The situations appear to be designed in order that the worth cap is rarely enforced,” Ribera stated. “This proposal may stimulate a hike in costs reasonably than include them.”

For Ribera, the €275 mark demanded by the Fee is excessively excessive and static.

The bloc has solely surpassed that barrier a handful of days through the summer season when the TTF suffered record-breaking spikes. Present TTF costs have ranged between €115 and €125 per megawatt-hour.

“If now we have gasoline costs of €275 (per megawatt-hour) throughout 15 days, Europe won’t ever recuperate from that financial shock,” Ribera stated, suggesting as an alternative a dynamic worth vary with a premium connected.

Her Greek counterpart, Kostas Skrekas, echoed her feedback and stated Europe was paying “the costliest pure gasoline on the planet.”


“Placing a ceiling at €275 just isn’t really a ceiling,” Skrekas instructed reporters. A variety of €150 euros and €200 could be “a sensible ceiling,” he added.

France, Italy, Belgium and Malta additionally expressed criticism concerning the European Fee’s draft textual content and the tight situations for activation which have been launched.

Among the many group of nations thought-about to be sceptical about worth intervention, emotions have been additionally blended.

The proposal is “flawed” and carries a “lot of dangers” for the safety of provide and monetary stability, stated Dutch Power Minister Rob Jetten. “I am very essential however from a unique perspective,” he stated.

For Germany, a rustic whose essential precedence is to safe as a lot gasoline as doable to offset the lack of Russian provides, the proposal goes in “the correct course” and just some “minor modifications” could be required.


“For us, it’s essential that the safeguards are in place and we keep away from the rationing of gasoline in Europe,” stated Sven Giegold, Germany’s state secretary for the financial system and local weather motion.

“The rationing of gasoline could be the incorrect response for residents and companies in such a disaster.”

Estonia, which shares related issues to Germany’s, additionally voiced a usually optimistic opinion.

“The proposal on the desk is OK, just about. However the measure must be non permanent and solely work for excessive worth hikes,” stated Riina Sikkut, Estonia’s minister of financial affairs and infrastructure.

“Safety of provide is paramount. Europe nonetheless must be a beautiful gasoline market. We can not put that below query.”

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Austria still opposed to Schengen accession of Romania and Bulgaria



Austria still opposed to Schengen accession of Romania and Bulgaria

Austria is still firmly opposed to the long-coveted Schengen accession of Romania and Bulgaria, arguing the passport-free area needs to become “better” before becoming “bigger.”


The unambiguous resistance has been well documented over the past few years and was once again expressed on Tuesday morning ahead of a meeting of home affairs ministers in Brussels.

“Schengen must become better and not bigger. I don’t see much progress here yet, so I can’t imagine any change now,” said Gerhard Karner, Austria’s federal minister of interior.

In Karner’s view, the number of border controls that European countries have imposed in recent months is a strong enough reason to prevent further expansion of the Schengen Area, which currently encompasses 27 countries, including 23 European Union states, and over 423 million citizens.

Under the Schengen Border Code, countries are allowed to establish temporary border controls as a last-resort method in exceptional circumstances. Governments in Austria, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Italy and Denmark have invoked this provision to cope with a continued rise in migration flows.


In the first ten months of 2023, the EU saw nearly 331,000 irregular border crossings, with the Central Mediterranean route accounting for nearly half of the incidents. The figures represent the highest level for that period since 2015.

An affiliate of the conservative People’s Party (ÖVP), Karner defends a hard-line position on migration and has touted the possibility of striking a deal with a non-EU country to outsource the processing of asylum applications.

“It is crucial that the European Commission finally invests heavily in external border protection and takes steps to make these external borders more secure,” Karner said. “That is ultimately what makes a functioning Schengen system.”

The lack of change in Austria’s position forced Spain, the holder of the rotating presidency of the EU Council, to amend the agenda of the home affairs meeting. Spain had previously said the gathering on 5 December would feature a binding vote on the Schengen applications of Romania and Bulgaria, two countries that have been waiting to join the passport-free area since they entered the EU in 2007.

But upon seeing the vote was bound to fail, as was the case in December last year, Spanish officials opted instead to have a “state of play” on the joint bids and the overall situation across the passport-free area.


Fernando Grande-Marlaska, Spain’s home affairs minister, told reporters his country would continue to work “very hard” on the topic “until the end of our presidency,” a remark that appeared to suggest the applications could be put to a vote sometime later this month. Although the matter is intrinsically political, it can also be taken up by the ambassadors in Brussels.

“A stronger Europe is a Europe with Romania and Bulgaria as full members of the Schengen Area,” Grande-Marlaska said.

His Romanian counterpart, Marian-Cătălin Predoiu, refused to comment on “speculation” about an extraordinary vote before the end of the year where Austria could potentially abstain to allow the accession. Predoiu said “intensive discussions” with Vienna were underway to find a diplomatic solution.

Accepting new members into Schengen requires a unanimous green light and, as Karner said on Tuesday, nothing heralds a forthcoming change in Austria’s position.

The Netherlands is also opposed to Bulgaria’s accession over rule-of-law concerns, although this position is considered somewhat more flexible than Austria’s veto. The Netherlands, however, is in the midst of a power transition following last month’s surprising victory of the far-right party of Geert Wilders in an election dominated by the topic of irregular migration.


A fact-finding mission recently sent to Bulgaria has brought back “really successful” results about the country’s preparation to join the passport-free area, said Ylva Johansson, the European Commissioner for Home Affairs.

“I will use this opportunity to tell (the ministers) about this. How well prepared both Romania and Bulgaria are to join Schengen,” Johansson said on Tuesday morning before heading into the meeting. “I will continue to have the objective to have this decision (taken) already this year.”

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Israel strikes in and around Gaza’s second largest city in an already bloody new phase of the war



Israel strikes in and around Gaza’s second largest city in an already bloody new phase of the war

KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israel intensified its bombardment in and around Gaza’s second largest city early Tuesday, as ambulances and private cars came racing into a local hospital carrying people wounded in a bloody new phase of the war in Gaza.

Under U.S. pressure to prevent further mass casualties, Israel says it is being more precise as it widens its offensive into southern Gaza after obliterating much of the north. Aerial bombardment and the ground offensive have already driven three-fourths of the territory’s 2.3 million people from their homes.

At the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, ambulances brought dozens of wounded people in throughout the night. At one point, a car pulled up and man emerged carrying a young boy in a bloody shirt and whose hand had been blown off.

“Where is the Red Cross? … where is the United Nations?” a woman screamed outside the emergency department. “My children, since 10 p.m., are still under the rubble.”

Satellite photos taken Sunday showed tanks and troops massing outside Khan Younis, the latest target of the offensive, which was home to more than 400,000 people before the war.


Israel has ordered people out of nearly two dozen neighborhoods instead of the entire region, as it did in the north. But with most of Gaza’s population already packed into the south, cramming U.N. shelters and family homes, there are few places left to go. Israel has barred people who fled the north earlier in the war from returning.

Palestinians say that as Israel continues to strike across the besieged territory, there are no areas where they feel safe, and many fear that if they leave their homes they will never be allowed to return.


Israel says it must dismantle Hamas’ extensive military infrastructure and remove it from power in order to prevent a repeat of the Oct. 7 attack that ignited the war. The surprise assault through the border fence saw Hamas and other Palestinian militants kill about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and capture some 240 men, women and children.

The Israeli military says it makes every effort to spare civilians and accuses Hamas of using them as human shields as it fights in dense residential areas, where it has a labyrinth of tunnels, bunkers, rocket launchers and sniper nests.

But the militant group is deeply rooted in Palestinian society, and its determination to end decades of open-ended Israeli military rule is shared by most Palestinians, even those opposed to its ideology and its attacks on Israeli civilians. That will complicate any effort to eliminate Hamas without causing massive casualties and displacement.


Even after weeks of unrelenting bombardment, Hamas’ leaders in Gaza were able to conduct complex cease-fire negotiations and orchestrate the release of more than 100 Israeli and foreign hostages in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners last week. Palestinian militants have also kept up their rocket fire into Israel, both before and after the truce.

The fighting has meanwhile brought unprecedented death and destruction to the coastal strip.

The Health Ministry in Gaza said the death toll in the territory since Oct. 7 has surpassed 15,890 people – 70% of them women and children — with more than 42,000 wounded. The ministry does not differentiate between civilian and combatant deaths. It says hundreds have been killed or wounded since the cease-fire’s end, and many still are trapped under rubble.

An Israeli army official provided a similar figure for the death toll in Gaza on Monday, after weeks in which Israeli officials had cast doubt on the ministry’s count. The official said at least 15,000 people have been killed, including 5,000 militants, without saying how the military arrived at its figures. The military says 84 of its soldiers have been killed in the Gaza offensive.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Monday that it was too soon to pass judgment on Israeli operations, but that it was unusual for a modern military to identify precise areas of expected ground maneuvers and ask people to move out, as Israel has done in Khan Younis.


“These are the kinds of steps that we have asked them to undertake.” he said. “These are the conversations we’re having day in, day out.”

The U.S. has pledged unwavering support to Israel since the Oct. 7 attack, including rushing weapons and other aid to the country.

Airstrikes and the ground offensive in northern Gaza have reduced large swaths of Gaza City and nearby areas to a rubble-filled wasteland. Hundreds of thousands of residents fled south during the assault.

Now around 2 million people — most of the territory’s population — are crowded into the 230 square kilometers (90 square miles) of southern and central Gaza. Since the truce’s collapse, the military has ordered the population out of an area of about 62 square kilometers (24 square miles) in and near Khan Younis, according to the evacuation maps issued by the Israeli military.

That further reduces the space available for Palestinians by more than a quarter.



Satellite photos from Sunday, analyzed by The Associated Press early Tuesday, show around 150 Israeli tanks, armored personnel carriers and other vehicles just under 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) north of the heart of Khan Younis. The army did not respond to a request for comment and rarely publicizes troop deployments.

Constant bombardment on the edge of Khan Younis lit up the sky over the town Monday evening.

Over the past few days, Israeli strikes have been “on a ferocious scale,” said Mohammed Aghaalkurdi, an aid worker with the group Medical Aid for Palestinians in Khan Younis.

He said neighborhoods and shelters were emptying as people fled. Leaflets dropped by the Israeli military warn people to go south toward the border with Egypt, but they are unable to leave Gaza, as both Israel and neighboring Egypt have refused to accept any refugees.

Adding to the chaos, phone and internet networks across Gaza collapsed again Monday evening, the Palestinian telecom provider PalTel said. It was the latest of several outages that have complicated rescue efforts. Communications were restored hours later.


The area that Israel ordered evacuated covers about a fifth of Khan Younis. Before the war, that area was home to some 117,000 people, and now it also houses more than 50,000 people displaced from the north, living in 21 shelters, the U.N. said. It was not known how many were fleeing.

Israeli media also reported intense fighting between Israeli troops and Hamas militants in northern Gaza — in the Jabaliya refugee camp, a built-up urban area, and in the Gaza City district of Shijaiya, both of which have seen intense bombardment and battles in recent weeks.


Magdy reported from Cairo. Associated Press writer Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed.


Full AP coverage at


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Zelenskyy to address US senators during classified briefing on stalled military aid to Ukraine, Israel



Zelenskyy to address US senators during classified briefing on stalled military aid to Ukraine, Israel

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is expected to address U.S. senators Tuesday during a classified briefing. 

The briefing, which will include secretaries of Defense, State and other top national security officials, comes as the Biden administration has been pushing Congress to pass a $106 billion aid package for the wars in Ukraine, Israel, and other security needs. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday highlighted the need for further assistance to Ukraine, saying Kyiv’s war effort to defend itself from Russia’s invasion may grind to a halt without it.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kharkiv, Ukraine. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young has also warned lawmakers that the U.S. will run out of funding to send weapons and assistance to Ukraine by the end of the year.


But Biden’s $106 billion aid request is facing deep skepticism from GOP lawmakers wary about continued support of Ukraine’s war efforts at the expense of the U.S.-Mexico border. 

Many Republicans supportive of the funding are insisting on border policy changes to halt the flow of migrants as a condition for the assistance.


Negotiations over the border security package broke down over the weekend as Republicans insisted on provisions that Democrats dismissed as Draconian, such as pressing for “indefinite detention” of asylum seekers and granting the executive branch power to “shut down” the asylum system. Talks are expected to resume this week.

Congress already has allocated $111 billion to assist Ukraine, including $67 billion in military procurement funding, $27 billion for economic and civil assistance and $10 billion for humanitarian aid. Young wrote that all of it, other than about 3% of the military funding, had been depleted by mid-November. 


Meanwhile, the GOP-controlled House has passed a standalone assistance package for Israel as it fights the war with Hamas in Gaza, while the White House has maintained that all the priorities must be met.


A police officer and a rescue worker walk in front of RIA Pizza restaurant destroyed by a Russian attack in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, in June. (National Police of Ukraine via AP/File)

The new package proposes an additional $61 billion for Ukraine, $14.3 billion for Israel, which includes $10.6 billion for weaponry, nearly $14 billion for border security, along with aid for the Asia-Pacific region and other U.S. national security provisions.

House Speaker Mike Johnson reiterated Monday that House Republicans will insist on border policy changes as part of a Ukraine assistance bill. He argued Biden has “failed to substantively address any of my conference’s legitimate concerns about the lack of a clear strategy in Ukraine, a path to resolving the conflict, or a plan for adequately ensuring accountability for aid provided by American taxpayers.”


Schumer is expected to push forward Biden’s supplemental funding package this week, but Republicans are threatening to block its passage with a filibuster as they insist on border security provisions.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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