As Russia cuts gas shipments, Europe moves to bail out energy providers.

Source: www.nytimes.com : 2022-07-07 15:01:21 : Melissa Eddy, Stanley Reed, Constant Méheut and Aurelien Breeden

BERLIN — Leaders in Europe, facing their worst energy crisis in decades, are taking extraordinary steps to secure supplies for winter amid fears of fuel shortages and near-record electricity and natural gas prices.

In Berlin, lawmakers prepared to approve legislation that would pave the way for Germany to bail out the country’s largest importer of Russian gas. In Paris, the prime minister announced her government’s intention to take full control of France’s state-backed electric utility provider.

There are mounting fears that skyrocketing energy costs, driven by steadily diminishing Russian gas shipments, will force energy companies into collapse — a spiral that Germany’s energy minister has likened to the way the fall of Lehman Brothers triggered the global financial crisis in 2008.

The disruption is being felt across the continent as countries including Austria, France and the Czech Republic try to find enough gas to fill their storage tanks before the temperatures drop — and, many fear, before Russia stops shipping gas altogether, possibly as soon as late July.

But it is felt most acutely in Germany, Europe’s largest economy, which for years has relied on Russia for most of its gas.

A measure that will be put to a vote in the German Parliament on Thursday is intended to allow the government to throw a lifeline to companies struggling with the record-high price of gas and cuts in supplies from Russia.

Élisabeth Borne, the French prime minister, told lawmakers on Wednesday for her first major speech before Parliament that the shift was needed to ensure France’s energy independence while also meeting a major goal of combating climate change.

Though France gets about 70 percent of its electricity from nuclear power, a bigger share than any other country in the world, Ms. Borne said it could also no longer count on Russian oil and gas.

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