Roof at the price of gas, that’s why Moscow’s blackmail can end

It has been talked about for months, especially since it became clear that the war in Ukraine would last a long time. Now the European ceiling on the price of gas imported from Russia becomes a more concrete option. Tension is mounting and the awareness that it is the only way to stop a race that risks bringing the continental economy to its knees is maturing. Despite the blackmail of Moscow is always on the table and despite the tones have never been so explicit. In the exchange between the president of the EU Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen, “I firmly believe that the time has come to set a ceiling on the price of Russian gas directed to Europe” and the vice president of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Medvedev, Russian gas “will not exist in Europe if the EU decides to introduce a price cap” is the best summary of a game that may have reached its decisive moment. As Prime Minister Mario Draghi has been arguing for months, a shared solution at the European level may have the strength to nullify one of the main weapons that Putin is using to neutralize the effect of international sanctions and put pressure on Europe. And compared to June, when it was decided not to decide in Brussels, the situation has changed and significantly worsened. The accumulated delay has a cost, which it was thought could pay above all the countries still dependent on Moscow, Germany and Italy more than the others, but which instead affects everyone. The consequences of the increase in inflation, and their proportion, contribute to bringing down national resistance. At these levels, it is the entire European production system that does not hold up. This is why the Germans have also changed their minds and for this reason the opposition of the Northern countries, led by Holland, is losing ground. It is, as always, a question of costs and benefits. Putting the ceiling may mean giving up Russian gas, taking Moscow’s new threat for granted, and this obviously comes at a price. It would be necessary to reduce consumption and continue to make substantial efforts to replace sources of supply. And winter would certainly be more difficult to deal with. But it can also be the way to shorten the times of war and, consequently, of the energy crisis. Above all, it can be the way to definitively escape the Russian blackmail, to work towards a real independence both on gas and oil, and to rediscover a Europe capable of asserting the weight of a finally cohesive political entity. The road is all uphill but the time for a first turning point is perhaps ripe. (by Fabio Insenga)