19 Dec

Instead of dealing with sensible issues, searching for new sources of energy and developing of infrastructure, the European Union has spent the last few months floundering around the gas price cap, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said in Brussels on Monday.

According to a statement by the Foreign Ministry, the minister said at a press conference following the meeting of EU energy ministers that Hungary does not support the introduction of a price cap on natural gas under any circumstances, as it is a "harmful, dangerous and completely unnecessary" measure.

He said that the community would thereby only react to events that took place in August, further adding that the fact that the continent has been doing fine without a price cap since then only proves its unnecessary nature.

In addition, the introduction of a cap could lead to price increases, both because of a reduction in the quantity available and because it would set the level above the current market price, he warned.

"What does this mean to traders and sellers? It clearly shows that we are willing to pay more for gas than the current market price," he added.

The minister called this unprecedented kind of artificial interference in the functioning of the market dangerous and irresponsible, which should be therefore subject to a very thorough preliminary investigation, to say the least.

Péter Szijjártó said that the solution would be to increase the volume of natural gas, however, that would also require infrastructure development.

"It is useless to build LNG terminals in different parts of Europe until there are no additional pipelines available," he said.

"Instead of dealing with this sensible issue, the last few months have been spent on floundering around the gas price cap," he stressed.

The minister said that a test vote on the EU's Czech presidency's gas cap proposal had been held, with nine member states voting against including Hungary, a result still not enough to make a blocking minority.

"The fact that although there is a legislative majority in favour of the gas price cap, they dare not propose it as a ballot initiative clearly shows that they are trying to build a broad consensus around it so that responsibility can be shared. And when it turns out to have been a completely unnecessary, dangerous, damaging measure for the whole of Europe, then everyone should be held responsible," he said.

"No matter how many rounds of voting there are today, Hungary will vote against. We need to build pipelines, we need to build LNG terminals, we need to find new sources, not to flounder around the gas price cap," he added.

The minister then touched on the issue of oil supply in Central Europe, underlining that the Friendship Pipeline from Russia brings 19 million tonnes of oil a year to Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

The only alternative route, the Adriatic pipeline to Croatia, has a capacity of only 12 million tonnes a year, which everyone has been aware of for at least six months, and yet nothing has been done to expand the capacity, he argued.

"This is a huge mistake on the part of the European Union, since this is not a bilateral or trilateral or quadrilateral issue, but a European one," he said.

The Croatian side had made an "unfair" offer to extend Mol's contract, which expires at the end of the year, as it would mean an 80 percent increase in transit fees, which Szijjártó called problematic.

"This is nothing other than an abuse of the war situation, of the monopoly position, and an abuse of the fact that the war could put Hungary, Slovakia and, to some extent, Czechia in a vulnerable position," he said.

In this context, he called on the European Commission to make a proposal so that the prices applied on alternative routes made necessary by the war should not go above European averages.

Asked by journalists about the corruption scandal in the European Parliament and the blocking of the visa waiver process for Qatar, he said that "the pot called the kettle back and there is a lot of chaos and confusion about what to say about it, and they are obviously trying to find someone outside to blame".

"If Qatar were to suspend or slow down its energy cooperation with the European Union, it would be another step towards European energy suicide," he warned.

Source: MTI - Hungarian News Agency