Sánchez achieves his goal that the EU allows the ‘Iberian exception’ to curb energy prices | International

The very hard battle of Spain and Portugal in Brussels to lower electricity prices has borne fruit. The EU is open to giving carte blanche to adopt measures to curb the energy price crisis at the national level, although the Commission reserves the last word to approve them. Both countries have managed to get the rest of the community partners to understand their particularity as an “energy island” and to include a text change in the draft conclusions of the European Council that is being held this Friday in Brussels that will allow Spain and Portugal to put limits temporarily to the price of gas used to generate electricity, so it is expected to quickly lower the bill for consumers and businesses, in less than a month.

“Finally, the Iberian exception is recognized,” said a euphoric but visibly exhausted Sánchez in a joint appearance with the Portuguese Antonio Costa. “The European Commission will allow Spain and Portugal an exceptional, temporary measure that does not involve subsidizing gas, that does not alter the incentives for renewable energy, but that will allow both governments to lower energy prices.” Sánchez, who got up temporarily from the meeting at the moment of greatest tension to force an unblocking, thus managed to overcome resistance, especially from Germany, which flatly rejected the idea of ​​the Iberian exception. “Sanchez has very successfully represented the interests of the country with his colleague Costa de el,” admitted the German chancellor, the Social Democrat Olaf Scholz, when asked about the discussion with Spain.

The President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, who will play a fundamental role in the next steps to be taken, has emphasized the specific characteristics of Spain and Portugal: “The Iberian Peninsula has a very specific situation”, she said in an appearance after the top. “They have a high percentage of renewables, and that is very good, but very few interconnections. That is why we agree that there should be special treatment”.

“The temporary nature of the measures and the level of electrical interconnectivity with the single electricity market will be taken into account”, includes the latest version of the text to which Sánchez alluded. The measures will have to be temporary and Spain will have to show that they do not excessively distort competition. The European Commission, for its part, undertakes to evaluate the interventions with an urgent procedure and to take into account the volume of market interconnection for its verdict, a variable that favors Spain, which only reaches 2.8%.

This final wording, according to the Spanish Government, will allow Spain and Portugal to present a proposal to the European Commission in a short time in which a cap is placed on the price of gas used to produce electricity in the Iberian Peninsula, and only for use internally, so that the bill quickly drops because that price is conditioning the rest of the market that is produced with much cheaper renewable or nuclear energy.

Gas only occupies 15% of the Spanish market but sets the price of everything. The pact that has been reached at the summit includes a certain guarantee that the European Commission will accept these Spanish and Portuguese proposals when they arrive, because the conclusions approved after a very long negotiation allow it to do so.

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That is why the phrase “the temporary nature of the measures and the level of electrical interconnectivity with the single electricity market will be taken into account” is so relevant. As Spain and Portugal have it very low, this will allow the European Commission to approve this formula quickly. Spain has had to guarantee that its solution does not touch the European market, it is exceptional and will finally consist of aid to compensate for the cap on the price of gas that will be set for the combined cycle plants that produce electricity. The Spanish Government assures that this will quickly lower the electricity bill and will have a much lower cost than the benefit it will produce for citizens.

The compromise proposal arrived at the stroke of six in the afternoon, after several recesses, including one that the President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, forced at noon, leaving the room and forcing the President of the Council, Charles Michel, to take a technical break.

“In the current context of very high electricity prices, the Commission is ready to urgently assess the compatibility [con la normativa comunitaria] of the temporary emergency measures in the electricity market notified by the Member States”, assures the new text of conclusions. “In assessing such compatibility, the Commission will also ensure, through an accelerated procedure, that the following conditions are met: the measures reduce spot electricity market prices for businesses and consumers and do not affect the conditions of the exchanges to an extent contrary to the common interest. When carrying out this evaluation, the temporary nature of the measures and the level of electricity interconnectivity with the single electricity market will be taken into account.

The war summit – with Brussels converted into the “center of the free world”, in the words of the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen – has shed its skin on its second day. Once the president of the United States, Joe Biden, has left, and the issues of Ukraine and the sanctions against Russia have been settled, the meeting of the Twenty-seven has been converted into a single-issue meeting on the energy price crisis. Spain has played the leading role on this occasion, and has finally achieved a good part of its objectives.

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