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Mitsotakis Says Immediate Ban on Russian Gas Imports Isn’t Realistic

ATHENS – In an interview with Bloomberg on Wednesday, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis repeated his call for a short-term intervention in the pricing structure of the wholesale gas market on a European Union level – outlined in his “Six-point Plan” proposal to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen – in order to contain skyrocketing gas and electricity prices in the EU.

Responding to questions about the possible cost and impact of the measures, he justified this intervention on the grounds that the market was no longer properly functioning according to the rules of supply and demand. According to the Greek prime minister, this was evident because prices had shot up even though the supply of gas had not significantly changed.

“If that indeed is the case, that begs the question whether we should make a more drastic intervention, essentially reset the market, rebalance it to ensure we avoid excessive fluctuations, which essentially have nothing to do with the fundamentals of supply and demand,” Mitsotakis said.

He noted that this will be discussed by European leaders and pointed out that the Recovery Fund set up after the pandemic was also considered “inconceivable” by many.

While all European countries were taking steps such as subsidising consumers, Mitsotakis said, there was need for a more systematic intervention and, while there were other ideas on the table, he was advocating “a European-wide solution to what is essentially a European problem.”

Mitsotakis supported EU measures to reduce reliance on Russian natural gas, but pointed out that these would need time and that short-term measures were also needed because the problem faced by households and enterprises was acute.

“The short-term disruption is so massive that it’s imposing such a big burden on our consumers but also on our businesses that it will no longer be manageable at the level of the national budgets,” Mitsotakis said.

Asked about the possibility of a ban on energy imports from Russia, he said this would not be realistic, while if Russia proceeded to stop selling to Europe, he said that Europe will have to be ready in the case of that eventuality.

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