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Italy urges EU to start work now on joint gas storage plan

10/22/2021 | 11:54am EST

BRUSSELS, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Italy has urged the European Union to start work immediately on a plan to create a joint storage system for strategic gas reserves, Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Friday.

Speaking to reporters after an EU summit, Draghi said Brussels needed to draw up an inventory of gas reserves that are available today across the bloc.

"On energy, Italy underlined the need to intervene immediately at a European level," Draghi said.

European gas prices have soared in recent weeks amid tight supply and surging CO2 prices as economies gradually emerge from the health pandemic.

That has prompted some member states to call for an EU response - with Spain, Italy and Greece proposing a new system of joint gas buying among EU countries to form strategic reserves.

Draghi said Brussels had come forward with a series of good proposals ranging from helping poorer families to developing interconnection between member states and integrating markets and gas storage.

Earlier this week Draghi said the energy transition could not be done without state involvement.

The surge in gas and power prices has stoked tensions between EU countries over the energy transition, with some saying new green policies could inflate consumer bills.

Draghi, who said the issue of nuclear power had been discussed at the summit, said it was difficult to give up using gas in the short term.

Europe is heavily dependent on gas to generate its electricity.

He said Europe was still very divided on the taxonomy of energy sources.

The EU's "sustainable finance taxonomy", aimed at stamping out "greenwashing", is a list of economic activities and the rules they must meet to be labelled as green investments, starting next year. (Reporting by Stephen Jewkes and Gavin Jones; Editing by Crispian Balmer and Angus MacSwan)

ę Reuters 2021
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