Germany and France on Friday pledged closer cooperation on energy and support for each other to ensure energy security, in the latest efforts to alleviate a crisis following the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
The two European neighbors agreed that Germany would provide France with electricity while France would send much-needed natural gas to Germany in a joint statement signed by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne in Berlin.
In the statement, Germany said it would delay the phase-out of remaining nuclear power plants until next April in order to provide additional electricity supplies to France.
France, meanwhile, has delivered up to 100 gigawatt-hours of natural gas on a daily basis to Germany since mid-October, as part of efforts to reduce dependence on Russian energy. Both sides agreed to sign an agreement on gas supply mechanisms in the first quarter of next year.
The two largest European economies also voiced their respect for each other's choice of technical routes for the electricity supply structure, agreed to boost cooperation in areas such as the development of hydrogen energy infrastructure, and reaffirmed their commitment to climate neutrality in the statement.
Soaring energy prices
Scholz on Friday also announced that the German cabinet had approved planned gas and electricity price brakes in an expedited process, as part of efforts by the government to tackle soaring energy bills for households and businesses, according to Reuters.
Earlier on Friday, a spokesperson said the German government was confident it would have the measures passed by both houses of parliament in early December.
Scholz made the announcement during the visit by the French prime minister.
"We have to go farther and limit gas price increases and carry out structural reform of the electricity market to durably allow consumers to pay prices which are aligned to production costs," Borne said.
"The right answer to this issue will be European and I am convinced we will converge on the issue," she said.
The average retail gas price across the European Union and Britain was almost 18 euro cents ($0.18) per kilowatt-hour in October, double what it was in the same month last year, Bloomberg reported citing energy consultancy VaasaETT Ltd. Household electricity costs have soared 67 percent to 36 euro cents per kilowatt-hour.
Moving on after ties' strains
In addition to energy policy, Germany and France on Friday agreed to deepen bilateral relations, in a signal of the countries' readiness to move on after recent strained ties.
At a press conference with Borne, Scholz said Germany hopes to seek breakthroughs on many other European issues together with France, adding that the countries are "very close."
Borne echoed the sentiment, describing the bilateral friendship as crucial.
"It has already proved it can withstand tests and master many challenges," she said.
From energy policy to defense procurement, relations between Germany and France have suffered to such an extent that French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire called last month for a "reset."