(Bloomberg) -- Germany will scrap a gas storage levy at its border from January 2025 after central European states like the Czech Republic said it harmed their efforts to ditch Russian gas by making the fuel pricier.

The end of the levy will need a change to the law, according to Sven Giegold, Germany’s state secretary for economic affairs and climate action. The country introduced the charge at the peak of Europe’s energy crisis in 2022 after Moscow curbed its pipeline gas flows and Berlin had to spend billions of euros to fill its storage facilities. 

A planned increase in the levy in July to €2.50 per megawatt hour from €1.86 currently will still take place, Giegold said ahead of a meeting of the European Union’s energy ministers in Brussels on Thursday. Domestic traders will very likely still have to pay the fee beyond 2025, he added.

“It was never our intention to hamper the diversification away from Russian gas,” the minister added. “The German budget will continue to invest in LNG facilities to support the diversification.”

Central European countries have criticized Berlin’s levy, which they said made getting gas from the West more expensive than from the East — a supply chain that is still dominated by Russian pipeline flows.

Read more: EU Countries Warn German Gas Levy May Boost Russia Reliance 

“If we want to reduce the imports from Russia, we have to start with removing all the obstacles, which are basically preferring Russian gas,” Czech Energy Minister Jozef Sikela said ahead of Thursday’s meeting. “We do not like to see Russian gas on Czech territory.”

A deal to transit gas from Russia to the bloc via Ukraine is due to run out at the end of the year, and the European Commission has told those states still using the route that they can do without. In turn they had argued that the German levy made it more difficult.

The withdrawal of the German levy may help smooth the path to completely ridding the European Union of the last 20% of energy supplies still coming from Russia, compared to before its invasion of Ukraine. 

Read more: Germany Wants EU Push to End Last 20% of Russia Energy Imports

Germany and the Czech republic have also teamed up to call for EU member states to form a high level working group to figure out how to get rid of the last remaining gas, oil and radioactive material coming from Russia. The energy ministers are meeting to take stock of how the bloc has done in its mission to end reliance on Moscow’s fossil fuel imports. 

(Updates with details throughout.)

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