PABLO R. SUANZES
Updated on Tuesday, September 21, 2021 – 12:11
Press for the next European Council to address the issue, propose a centralized gas purchase mechanism as with vaccines and defend the legality of all the measures approved in Spain
The President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, goes to pick up the President of the Republic of Colombia to hold a meeting between the two at the Palacio de la Moncloa, on September 16, 2021, in Madrid.
If it’s not a European issue, it will have to be. The price of electricity is skyrocketing across the continent, and although Spain and Portugal are the ones that suffer the highest cost in the wholesale market, there is practically no country that is free. That is why the Government of Pedro Sanchez believes that the EU should do more, do it quickly and stop putting on profile, because there is a growing risk of a widespread revolt such as the yellow vest and that the support of millions of people for green policies will wane.
Last week the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, He completely ignored the issue in his Discourse on the State of the Union, which from Madrid was received with annoyance and interpreted as the need to redouble the pressure. The strategy has several legs, from fostering discussion to aggressive lobbying in defense of the policies adopted from Madrid.
On the one hand, the President of the Government has asked the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, that the question of light appears on the agenda of the next summit of heads of State and Government, in October, to be discussed in depth. This was explained this Tuesday in Brussels by the Secretary of State for the EU, Juan Gonzlez-Barba, before meeting with your community counterparts. Sánchez wants them to “launch the debate”, put the light on the political table, that there be a common message, seek solutions immediately and stop facing an issue that can have enormous social repercussions and jeopardize support for the green transition defending the Union. “The current crisis is a threat to carbon reduction initiatives. Current price levels and volatility are politically unsustainable. This is not only a problem for national governments, but also for the entire European regulatory framework, which is losing credibility. This situation may cause a backlash against carbon reduction initiatives, as has already been seen in France with the yellow vest crisis. Carbon reduction policies have been understood and accepted in general in Spain, but it is possible that they will not withstand a sustained period of abusive electricity prices “, says the Executive in a letter sent to Brussels and his colleagues of the 27.
On the other hand, Sánchez wants the Commission to take the lead. The possibilities for action are limited, and not in the short term, but they do exist. Moncloa wants to discuss “what are the causes of the current rise in prices” and what parts of European legislation are “susceptible to improvement” if it is addressed at the European level, Gonzlez-Barba said in statements collected by Europa Press.
The Executive is deploying its strategy in the community capital, articulated on the letter that the vice presidents sent to the European Commission yesterday Nadia Calvio and Teresa Ribera. In it, they influence the reform of the operation of the wholesale electricity market and, through what is known as a ‘non-paper’, a working document to promote debate, they propose the implementation of a centralized platform for the purchase of gas, similar in its principles to that used for the purchase of vaccines against Covid for the entire EU. “While we cannot reduce our dependency in the short term, we can and must increase our bargaining power. That is why a centralized European platform is needed to buy natural gas. We have done this successfully with vaccines and we should reproduce this model in other strategic fields such as this. In addition, we could use our greater negotiating power to generate strategic reserves that allow us to mitigate our exposure to market fluctuations “, says the Spanish ‘non-paper’ in its four pages.
Rivera and Calvio ask the European Commission for an initiative to establish a series of guidelines to act in times of panic and volatility. “The Commission should develop guidelines that allow Member States to react accordingly during periods of dramatic market tension. If the rules of the game are set at European level, solutions should too. Member States should not have to improvise measures ad hoc whenever markets malfunction, and then hope that the Commission does not oppose them. We urgently need a pre-designed European policy menu to react immediately to dramatic price increases. We are considering flexible guidelines developed by the Commission. , which should provide governments with different options, thereby increasing certainty for consumers, holders and governments alike. We must try to anticipate and prepare for any unforeseen setbacks that may appear on the path to carbon neutrality, ” read on paper.
In its letter and proposal, Spain not only advocates change, but also takes the opportunity to defend the recently approved measures and to lobby against the critics of the companies, which have also turned to Brussels to try to stop them. It is the third part of the strategy. “All the national measures recently introduced in Spain fully comply with the legal framework of the EU”, defends the Executive. “All of them respect the existing marginal price scheme of the European wholesale markets, and most of the measures are only temporary until the current peak in gas prices is alleviated. Spain has fully complied with European standards despite the political sensitivity of the current crisis. Other countries have adopted less orthodox measures and the Commission has maintained a cautious approach. We expect at least a similar treatment “, they claim from Madrid in a not very frequent tone.
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