Make virtue, albeit temporarily, of a historical ballast: the absence of interconnections with the rest of the European partners. That is the intention of the Spanish Government, which this Friday will play in Brussels the trump card of its energy uniqueness to try to achieve urgent changes that allow the price of electricity to be lowered in the short term. Faced with the intransigence shown so far by Germany, the Netherlands and some northern EU countries, more concerned about security of supply than about prices that have reached stratospheric levels, Spain will defend on the key day of the summit of European leaders the need to apply a new framework in the short term to try to loosen the rope of receipts on families and companies. “We are an energy island”, emphasize sources from the Executive, who ask for a clue to take “urgent and exceptional” measures.
The very few energy links with the rest of the EU make Spain and Portugal two Rare avis at the community club. And that, which is a problem for which the bloc has hardly provided solutions for decades, will also be the central argument with which Pedro Sánchez will try to obtain the go-ahead to be able to apply —together with Portugal— his own formulas, differentiated from those from the rest of the states.
The Government is aware that the prices of electricity and gas will remain high for much longer than they would like, but – in view of the fact that an agreement that establishes a common umbrella for all is practically impossible at this point – the objective of The minimum must be to scratch an agreement that allows to reduce the pressure somewhat in the most immediate.
The prey will not be easy: the resistance raised in recent days by the nations that are based on what was once the Hanseatic League is enormous. Hence, they are forced to play other cards, backed by an argument that, they emphasize, is also powerful: “We are the second country in the Union with the worst interconnections, only behind Cyprus,” these same sources point out. In its particular battle to try to get something clear from Brussels, Spain, they add, is managing to add some Eastern countries to its cause to try to counterbalance it. But it is not clear if it will be enough.
Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece, the countries that have forged a common front in recent weeks to try to soften the iron position of the north, still hope to get something more than a safe conduct to apply their own emergency prescriptions apart from the rest of the block. But, meanwhile, the will is to try to save the furniture: “You can not lose more time,” they emphasize.
After the mirage of the pandemic, in which Germany crossed the Rubicon with a debt mutualization that Angela Merkel would never have accepted under other circumstances, energy has returned the European locomotive to the no the one that made the flag during the European debt crisis. The change of government – today it is the Social Democrat Olaf Scholz who is in charge, instead of the conservative Merkel – has not moved some pillars: whether in taxation or energy, there are inertias that do not change.
He knows in depth all the sides of the coin.
Yes to interconnections, but not paid for by the Spanish taxpayer
In times of energy shortages, in which liquefied natural gas (the one that arrives by ship and not by tube) has become the lifeline against the unstable and today toxic Russian supply, Spain has a unique jewel in the continent: six regasification plants capable of returning much more fuel to its natural state than it needs for its own consumption. That remnant, however, does not have the adequate route to cross the Pyrenees in a sufficient quantity to supply the large countries of the block in full search for alternatives to disconnect from Moscow: the two existing gas pipelines are too small.
The Spanish Government welcomes the construction of a new tube in Catalonia, in the image and likeness of the Midcat, projected more than five years ago and which Brussels dropped three years ago alleging lack of economic profitability. But he rejects that the money has to come out of the pocket of the Spanish taxpayer, “who already pays, and a lot, for that regasification network”, they allege.
The funds, they claim, should come from the Community Budget or from the accounts of the States that would benefit the most from this gateway that would open for the powerful hub Iberian gas, which could process a good part of what is imported from the United States and other large producers: those that most depend on Russian gas, with Germany always in the top positions. Madrid is also seeking that this new infrastructure —which would take more than two years to be active— can be used in the coming years to also transport green hydrogen. That the work, they say, has a long future and is not born with an appraised expiration date.
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