EU energy regulator adds to pressure on Germany over gas tariff

(Reuters) - European Union energy regulators added to growing pressure on Germany over Berlin's levy on cross-border gas trading, which some countries say puts the EU's energy solidarity at risk and hurts efforts to cut reliance on Russia.

The tariff is a legacy of the European energy crisis that peaked in 2022 after Moscow cut gas flows to Europe following its invasion of Ukraine. To try to recoup the billions it spent on quickly filling storage with non-Russian gas, Germany introduced a levy on cross border gas trade.

In a report published on Friday, EU energy regulators ACER echoed concerns raised by the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary over the German levy.

Applying costs at cross-border gas transit points could affect gas flows, raise gas prices in some countries, and hinder countries' efforts to diversify their gas supply sources, ACER said.

"Charges and levies recovering the costs of implementing national storage measures should not be applied at cross-border points, to avoid adverse effects to gas exchanges," ACER said.

EU countries' energy ministers discussed the issue at a meeting in Brussels on Monday. Two EU diplomats told Reuters Germany indicated in the meeting it was working on a solution to address countries' concerns.

The European Commission has said it was in contact with Germany about the levy. One EU diplomat suggested Brussels could start infringement proceedings against Berlin if concerns over the tariff were not addressed.

ACER said neighboring countries' concerns over Germany's levy had been intensified after Berlin more than tripled the fee, from 0.59 euros per megawatt hour in October 2022 to 1.86 eur/MWh in January 2024.

Despite the concerns, Berlin is expected to extend the tariff by two years, until the end of 2027. Italy is also considering following Germany's lead with its own extra charge.

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