The European Parliament is urging the European Commission to submit proposals on capping the price of natural gas delivered through pipelines from Russia, as well as an update of EU gas purchase regulations to curb the price of imported gas.
In a resolution passed at Wednesday’s plenary session, the EP called on member states to ensure that citizens failing to pay growing energy bills are not cut off from the services, and to strive to avoid the eviction of struggling households. Meanwhile, energy companies making extra profits on high energy prices must contribute to curbing the fallout from the crisis, the resolution said. The EP welcomed the EC resolution introducing an emergency cap on revenues of companies with low operational costs. The EP again called for a full embargo on imports of oil, coal, nuclear fuel and gas from Russia and for fully ending deliveries via the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines.
The EP group of ruling Fidesz responded by slamming Hungarian left-wing parties for “taking the side of sanctions again”. MEP András Gyürk said in a statement the price cap on pipeline-delivered gas would be equivalent to new sanctions. Meanwhile, the EP’s “leftist liberal majority” was urging immediate embargoes on Russian energy imports, he said. Hungarian leftist parties agreed with those sanctions and continued to demand new ones, Gyürk added. “It has been proven that Hungarian people and companies grappling with the energy crisis caused by the sanctions can only count on the Fidesz-Christian Democrats,” he said. “We shall not give in to political pressure harming the interests of Hungary. The time for harmful sanctions is over; we have to focus on helping families and companies,” he said.
István Ujhelyi, an MEP sitting in the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats who recently left Hungary’s Socialist party, said he supported the resolution as it condemned Russia’s war as a direct attack on European values. He also voted for the passages on protections for struggling households but abstained in the vote on those on the energy industry. “I maintain my stance to support energy measures only if Hungary is prepared to fend off its negative effects,” he said. Had Fidesz spent EU funding appropriately rather than “enriching their own families”, Hungary would be much more resilient to the crisis now, he said.
In a statement later on Thursday, Fidesz MEPs said an EP decision scheduled to be adopted on Thursday demanded new sanctions. The gas price cap would lead to falling gas supplies, “an absurd idea” on the cusp of the heating season, the statement said. The “irresponsible decision” would deepen the crisis and make Europeans pay the price of war, it said. “We Fidesz MEPs are protecting the interests of Hungarians. We will not support proposals that put Hungarian energy supplies and jobs at risk,” the statement said.