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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EU Frets About Oil Prices

BRUSSELS -- Record highs in oil prices are unjustified and a cause for concern, European Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said Friday.

He said he would not be surprised if EU finance ministers discussed the topic at an informal gathering Sept. 10 and 11, even as Italy said it might propose cuts in excise duties on oil at that meeting if international oil prices stay high.

"The fundamentals of the market for oil are not justifying these prices," Almunia said. "It is not a positive thing to have an increase in oil prices."

Italy, the euro zone's third-biggest economy, is worried enough to consider suggesting action to EU finance ministers.

"I think that at Ecofin on Sept. 11, if things remain the way they are today, we should make a proposal on taxes for our country," Gianluigi Magri, undersecretary of the Italian treasury, said in Rome.

The proposal would keep domestic gasoline costs steady despite fluctuations in international oil prices.

Germany, Europe's biggest economy, said speculation was to blame for higher oil prices and must be countered.

"It can be in nobody's interest, including that of the oil-producing nations, that the global economy is weakened," a German Economic Ministry spokeswoman said.