Finnish Europe Minister Titi Toborainen traveled to Berlin with a delegation to advise on the rescue of Uniper – Germany’s largest gas trading company, which supplies many German public utilities, particularly in North Rhine-Westphalia, but also in Bavaria. Due to reductions in gas volumes from Russia, Uniper is in danger of bankruptcy. Chancellery President Wolfgang Schmidt and State Minister Jörg Kukis wanted to explore next steps with the Finns.
Baby Uniper Problem
The Finns believe Germany should help save the company. Although the company is 51 percent owned by the Finnish state, the Finns are not as dependent on Russian gas as the Germans. At the beginning of the year, Helsinki gave Uniper’s parent company €8 billion in cash and believed that was enough. Federal Economy Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) sees it differently. He wants the Finns to get involved with more help.
It is also his goal for Uniper not to pass on higher gas prices to German customers on an individual basis. A few days ago, Chancellor Olaf Schultz (SPD) indicated that the federal government was determined to help Uniper. But this will require discussions. A secret meeting with the Finnish government delegation in the Chancellery should be part of this exchange. According to government departments, it is still too early to find concrete solutions.
Heating prices can triple
The meeting between Chancellor Schmidt, representatives of the federal states and the head of the Federal Network Agency, Klaus Muller, also took place behind closed doors. The question on everyone’s mind is whether or not gas will flow through Russia’s Nord Stream pipeline again next week.
Be that as it may, the only sure thing is that heating will become more expensive. Gas customers have to count double or even triple bills. “Anyone who previously paid 1,500 euros for gas each year could pay 4,500 euros or more in the next year,” Netzagentur Chairman Muller said in an interview with the newspapers affiliated with the German editorial network. Mueller called for precautions. His advice is to set aside money every month, ideally in a special account, and to optimally adjust the heating. And Mueller still has reassuring news for residents: he considers a scenario in which gas does not reach people’s homes as highly unlikely.