Berlin has slammed Washington and other “friendly” gas-supplier states for profiteering from the energy crisis precipitated by the Russo-Ukraine war, accusing them of charging Germany and other EU states of “astronomical” prices for natural gas.
“Some countries, including friendly ones, sometimes ask astronomical prices [for their gas]. Of course, that brings with it problems that we have to talk about,” Robert Habeck, Germany’s left-liberal economic minister, said in an interviewpublished by the newspaper Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung (NOZ) on Wednesday.
Additionally, the economic minister, whose approval rating now sits at a dismal 34%, urged the United States to show greater solidarity in assisting its gas-deprived ‘partners’ in Europe to cope with their ongoing energy crisis.
“The United States contacted us when oil prices shot up, and the national oil reserves in Europe were tapped as a result. I think such solidarity would also be good for curbing gas prices,” Habeck, the co-leader of the Green Party, said.
The minister also recommended that the European Union “pool its market power and orchestrate smart and synchronized purchasing behavior by the EU states so that individual EU countries do not outbid each other and drive-up global market prices. The power of the European market is “enormous” and has to be leveraged, he added.
Habeck’s statements come as Germany—and the rest of Europe—are poised to face a troublesome winter, with energy shortages forecast across the continent as a result of Russian gas having been dramatically reduced amid sanctions regimes imposed by the collective West.
Days ago, with an energy crisis looming, Habeck warned that the country was looking at an “extremely tense situation” in the months ahead. He implored German citizens to limit their gas consumption as much as possible, cautioning that if current usage levels persist German gas reserves could run out this winter.
Earlier this month, before issuing this warning to the public, the economic minister had received a letter from the German Retail Trade Federation (HDE), an association that represents the interests of 300,000 independent companies with a total of 3 million employees, that warned that some 16,000 businesses are in the brink of collapse as a consequence of all-time high inflation rates, high-priced energy, and the low purchasing power of the euro.
Behind industry and crafts, retail trade is Germany’s third largest economic sector.