TALLINN – The European Commission should look for ways to make changes to the emissions trading arrangement in such a way as to enable a rapid and effective response to major changes in carbon and electricity prices, Estonia's Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas says.
"The emissions trading system is not the main cause of the rise in energy prices, but it is nevertheless one of the factors, which, if made more flexible, could bring prices lower if necessary," Aas said in a press release on Tuesday.
Energy ministers of the European Union held an extraordinary meeting in Luxembourg on Tuesday, where the European Commission's proposals on how to mitigate the rise in energy prices was presented and views exchanged between the member states.
The need to review the emissions trading system was highlighted at the meeting by several other member states in addition to Estonia.
Spain, France, the Czech Republic, Romania and Greece have proposed to start reforming the EU energy market as a matter of urgency. However, Estonia joined a joint statement of nine countries which do not think this is necessary.
"High energy prices have not been caused by the organization of the European Union's energy markets, which has functioned effectively so far. Initiating this discussion at this point would complicate the financing of necessary renewable energy investments and slow down the putting of new production capacities on the market," the minister said.
According to Aas, the European Union must reduce its dependence on natural gas imports and devote more resources to the large-scale development of renewable energy, including the creation of offshore wind energy generating capacities and the necessary infrastructure.
The minister of economic affairs and infrastructure noted that as the crisis in energy prices is global, common solutions are also needed.
"The current situation also clearly shows that we need to invest more in local managed renewable energy sources," he said.
The European Commission recommended that member states take various measures to mitigate the impacts of rising energy prices on consumers and small businesses as soon as possible.
The Estonian government has decided to develop a support measure to help less well-off households pay electricity, gas and district heating bills, as well as to temporarily reduce the electricity network fee for consumers.