EU chief questions bloc’s unity as Putin doubles down on energy war

European Union flag is brought into Ukraine's Parliament

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The European Union is showing its first signs of split over how to reduce energy bills for EU citizens amid Vladimir Putin’s energy war. European energy ministers have so far failed to come up with a EU-wide plan to combat sky-high energy prices inside the bloc, delaying the decision to future meetings. In the face of that lack of consensus, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has called on all member states to play their fair share and come to an agreement.

When confronted on that apparent disunity ahead of difficult winter months, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola told CNN: “I was encouraged last week – even though it’s difficult – to see these decisions being taken in the background of an energy crisis.

“But the [bloc’s] Prime Ministers are saying: ‘we need to continue to get our act together, to come together to show that unity.’

“What we’ve seen today shows that Russia will continue to escalate further,” she said as missiles struck energy and telecommunication facilities across most of Ukraine.

“Are we ready is the question to make sure that we can respond proportionately. I think that this is a day when we have to be able to answer that question.”

“Otherwise, not only would we be disappointing the Urkainians, but we’d also be disappointing our citizens,” President Metsola added.

The European Union was dealt in a new blow in its energy war against Vladimir Putin, as the bloc lost access to Ukraine’s electricity. Russian troops deliberately targeted Ukraine’s energy system in series of strikes accross the country in response to an attack on a critical bridge linking Russia and Crimea, President Putin said.

President Metsola said: “The point of fragmentation is exactly what Putin wants. 

“And I complete agree with the President of the European Commission in urging member states and their leaders to come together. 

“There is an interest, let’s say, on the extreme fringers of the political scene that would like that instability to be exploited.”

President Metsola continued: “We, in the European Parliament, are here to take decisions in order to make sure that whatever help, whatever assistance can get to Ukraine, does actually get there. 

“We’re not going to be the ones, let’s say, waiting for others to take the decisions before we do.”

In its energy war against Putin, the EU has imposed a ceiling on the price of Russian oil and is now working on a similar cap on Russia gas in a show of unity. But EU’s energy ministers have reached a stalemate over the bloc’s plan to reduce energy prices. 

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While some countries want to reimburse people for gas payments over a certain price, others want to limit the price EU countries would pay for gas purchases. 

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen urged energy ministers to work on a plan “to keep our single market target and avoid fragmentation.”

The deadlock is expected to be at the heart of discussions during the formal EU leaders’ summit on October 20 and 21.

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