Germany bends the EU and avoids limiting the price of gas

Brussel·lesEurope staged at the Prague summit its unity in favor of Ukraine and against Russia, but the heads of state and government of the European Union were unable to defuse the discussion on whether to limit the price of gas and what is the best way to do it. The majority of member states – such as Belgium, Greece, Italy, Spain or Portugal – want a cap on gas prices, but Europe’s largest economy, Germany, together with some other states, such as The Netherlands or Denmark are adamantly opposed and obstructing the agreement.

Germany, very dependent and a large consumer of gas, defends that the decision to limit the price would jeopardize the security of supply because, according to the government of Olaf Scholz, gas exporting countries would prefer to sell it to countries without ceiling and not to the community states that can only pay it below the market price. For this reason, yielding and with the aim of reaching an agreement, some countries propose to establish a price limit that varies according to market fluctuations, to ensure that what Germany fears does not happen.

As for the security of energy supply, the President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has long taken iron out of the Kremlin’s threats to cut off the gas tap and assures that Europe could go through the winter without its fossil fuels. In fact, today the European Union has announced that its gas reserves are already at 90%, 10% above what had been set as a milestone. “We are well prepared, we have a first line of protection,” said Von der Leyen.

There has also been no progress in Prague on whether the price caps should affect only gas of Russian origin or all, including that which arrives by pipeline from Norway and Algeria, and liquefied natural gas (LNG) which it imports by ship from countries such as the United States, Qatar and Nigeria. In this sense, and approaching positions with Germany, the European Commissioner for the Economy has pointed out before entering the summit that one of the possible solutions, apart from adapting the cap to supply and demand, is to set limits at a different price to what comes from Russia than to the rest of the gas. “It is clear that the attitude towards Russia cannot be the same as towards Norway or Algeria, we need a fairly sophisticated and dynamic instrument,” Gentiloni said.

The next step is for the European Commission to present the proposal for the second part of the energy shock plan to the Twenty-seven, who will have to have their say and approve it. In this sense, some state leaders, such as the Italian Mario Draghi, have already asked the community executive not to present them again before the summit of states on the 20th and 21st of this month in Brussels a measure “strike”, but a “clear” and “concrete” proposal to try to lower gas prices.

European partners, angry with Germany

The European partners continue to criticize Germany that, while, on the one hand, it obstructs agreements on the energy shock plan that have majority support among the Twenty-seven, such as the gas cap, on the other hand, it unilaterally approves a subsidy to help pay its citizens and businesses part of the electricity receipts of 200,000 million euros, equivalent to 5% of its GDP (the indicator that measures the size of an economy), which almost equals to Catalonia’s GDP. Few member states have this borrowing capacity and both EU leaders and various heads of state have criticized that subsidizing German companies so substantially goes against the rules of the competitive and level playing field of the common market . The most forceful today was the Polish Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, who called for “an end to German selfishness” and for the Twenty-Seven not to stop approving measures so that only one state is against it.

Tensions have also surfaced between Germany, France and Spain as a result of Midcat. The President of France, Emmanuel Macron, has reiterated his refusal to build the infrastructure that would cross the Pyrenees and has denied that in the future it can transport green hydrogen, as defended by Spain and Germany, and that it serves to solve the current energy crisis , as the pipelines are “not yet being used at full capacity” right now. However, the Spanish president, Pedro Sánchez, is not giving up and is scheduled to meet next week in Paris with Macron to try to convince him. In addition, Sánchez will hold a meeting in Berlin with Scholz and the president of Portugal, António Costa, with the aim of exerting more pressure in favor of Midcat.

Source: – Portada by

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