Joint purchases would help avoid competition within the bloc, the European Commission president says © Getty Images / Tim Graham

European Commission (EC) President Ursula von der Leyen has called on EU member states to jointly purchase gas in order to avoid competition that could push prices even higher.

“Instead of outbidding each other, Europeans should buy gas together. For this, we will purchase together gas at {the} EU level… We do this because we have learnt the lesson. We literally saw in August, at the height of the filling season, how member states were outbidding each other and prices were spiking. We definitely can be smarter than this. So pooling our demand is a must,” Leyen said on Wednesday at the European Parliament session in Strasbourg.

Her comments come a day after the EC announced a new emergency package of measures aimed at lowering gas prices and ensuring the EU’s winter energy supply. Joint gas purchases are part of the plan, as is the introduction of binding “default rules” for member states to share gas in the case of an emergency.

“We know that some member states are more directly exposed than others to Russian gas. The situation is especially challenging for landlocked countries in Central Europe. But in the end, in our single market with highly integrated supply chains, a disruption in one member state has a massive impact on all member states. So, sharing gas in a crisis is critical,” she stated.

According to von der Leyen, the EU has managed to reduce its “huge dependency on Russian gas” by two thirds in eight months, and also to diversify supplies. However, she noted that this has come “at a high price” and urged the bloc to invest in “home-grown sources of energy” in order to maintain competitiveness.

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