EU leaders seek to safeguard energy supplies as prices soar

Belgium EU Summit

BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union leaders met Thursday to discuss ways to ease the pain of soaring energy bills for consumers, while seeking to safeguard energy supplies to the 27-nation bloc by speeding up the transition away from polluting fossil fuels to sustainable alternatives.

The energy debate at the EU leaders’ summit comes amid spiraling prices that are pummeling households and businesses still reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The talks also come just 10 days ahead of the opening of a U.N. climate summit that is widely seen as the last chance to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU's executive and its member states already are working to ease the burden of soaring energy bills on households and businesses.

She said leaders also will have to look at the way energy markets function but stressed that “in the mid and long term, it is very clear that the strategy has to be to invest massively in clean and renewable energy” produced in Europe.

The debate on spiraling energy prices also takes place against a backdrop of frosty relations with Russia, a key supplier of gas to Europe.