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Spain and a dozen other countries put pressure on Brussels to impose a cap on the price of gas


In a letter signed by at least 12 countries, the signatories consider that a limit would be the most effective measure to "mitigate inflationary pressure." France, for its part, wants Europe to consider extending the Iberian exception to other countries

Spain, along with at least a dozen other European countries, is redoubling the pressure for Brussels to include a gas price cap as one of the “priority” emergency instruments to deal with this winter's energy crisis.

In a letter that they will send this Tuesday to the Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, they maintain that this measure, which the European Executive ended up withdrawing from its initial proposal, is the most efficient to face the "unsustainable" inflationary pressure and other immediate challenges that has caused the closure of the Russian gas tap.

“The cap on the price of gas that has been requested from the beginning by an increasing number of Member States is the measure that will help each Member State to mitigate inflationary pressure, manage expectations and provide a framework in case of potential disruptions. of supply, in addition to limiting the extra benefits of the sector”, argue the signatories of a letter to which EL PAÍS has had access and


has advanced , which already add up to a dozen countries, according to sources familiar with the initiative.

The spokesman for the European Commission, Eric Mamer, has indicated that the Community Executive is "working" on the matter, without indicating whether there will be a specific proposal for Friday, when a council of EU Energy Ministers will be held in Brussels.

The definitive list of emergency measures to be approved shortly should come out of this new crucial meeting.

In the letter, the countries tell the commissioner that they also hope that the legislative proposal in this regard will be ready "as soon as possible".

The measure should be applied to "all wholesale transactions of natural gas and not limited to imports from specific jurisdictions," they add, referring to the initial proposal by the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, to impose a cap only on the price of Russian gas.

The measure, which the head of the European Executive raised before the first extraordinary meeting of energy ministers, on September 9, ended up being withdrawn from the initial list of measures that she presented a week later before the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

This included proposals for the reduction of electricity consumption —of a mandatory 5% at peak hours— such as taxing the extraordinary benefits of energy.

For Spain and the other countries that support the initiative, including Portugal, Poland, Belgium, Slovenia or Lithuania, among others, this cap on the price of gas "can be designed in such a way as to guarantee the security of supply" — one of the main objections of those who oppose the measure, such as the Netherlands or Hungary, as well as the "free flow of gas" through Europe.

At the same time, it would make it possible to achieve the "shared goal of reducing gas demand."

"This cap is the priority and can be complemented with proposals to strengthen the financial surveillance of the gas market and the development of alternative benchmarks for the price of gas in Europe," they add regarding other, more long-term measures proposed by Brussels. .

France, in a separate initiative, is also in favor of imposing a limit on the price of gas, although it advocates going in stages, starting with the Russian to gradually expand the measure.

“Measures must be adopted to guarantee a cap on gas prices in Europe, starting with a unilateral ceiling on the price of gas imported by gas pipeline from Russia,” proposes a draft from Paris that circulates among European embassies in Brussels.

In a second moment, the French argue, "in-depth negotiations with our Norwegian and Algerian partners should be initiated to achieve reasonable gas prices."

As a next step, the draft continues, a “more general cap of European wholesale markets,

for which a first step would be the introduction of a compensated cap on the prices of gas used to generate electricity”.

France is also in favor of another measure considered by Brussels and that has remained up in the air for the moment: the creation of some type of mechanism that "encourages the joint purchase of LNG", liquefied natural gas.

This "complementary measure", argue the French, would allow a "high level of security" in the supply of gas in the long term.

France wants the Iberian exception

In its proposal for Brussels, France also evokes the possibility of creating an Iberian exception "at European level", as one of the most effective short-term mechanisms to stop the spiral of electricity prices, a possibility that its president, Emmanuel Macron, last week, during the inauguration of the first French offshore wind farm.

Ahead of Friday's meeting in Brussels, Macron said his "priority" will be to "lower all [energy] prices."

"To begin with, on gas, we are going to try to obtain at least the same as our Spanish and Portuguese friends have obtained," said the French president, referring to the agreement approved by the European Commission in June.

This allows Spain and Portugal to set a limit price for gas to produce electricity, with which, as the president added, it has been achieved that "today, prices in Spain are two to three times less expensive than in the rest of Europe".

In the French draft, France once again describes the Iberian mechanism as "the most effective and currently least expensive measure to reduce electricity prices in Europe", and considers that the Commission "should make a proposal" in this regard with a view to Friday energy tip.

"An instrument of this type, implemented on a European scale, can be quickly built as an emergency solution to lower electricity prices, for a limited time", argue its authors.

A European Iberian mechanism that, they underline, should be "well configured to prevent the increase in gas consumption and greenhouse gas emissions (...) would guarantee that the operation of the interconnections is not distorted and that there are no incentives to consume too much gas”, they conclude.

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Source: elparis

All business articles on 2022-09-27

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