The meeting of the European Council this Friday has passed with more tension than expected. The President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, wanted the European Union to agree on joint measures that would allow the price of electricity to be lowered immediately, but aware of the difficulty of agreeing on them, he demanded that there be at least now specific instruments for Spain and Portugal. Something that has finally been achieved when the EU recognizes the ‘Iberian exception’ and allows Spain and Portugal to adopt their measures in energy matters.
After the difficulties that he was encountering in the meeting so that his claims were heard, at one point in the meeting he got up and left the summit to take a break: “I’m going to air out for a while, to see if they find a technical solution “, he said, referring to the reluctance of his proposals by Germany and the Netherlands. His absence has forced a pause in the meeting. Later, he sat down again with the rest of the European leaders.
The European Council addressed this Friday the debate on the possibility of making reforms in the energy market as Sánchez has been demanding for months and believes it is even more necessary now due to the war in Ukraine. Speaking to journalists upon arrival at the summit, Sánchez thanked the European Commission for its work and the attitude of its president, Ursula von der Leyen, in the face of this problem, because in the communication made public by this community institution it is recognized that there is no a single “magic bullet” to solve it.
The European Commission put forward a series of proposals, some of them at the initiative of Spain.
In that debate, he stressed that it should be taken into account that there is a very specific reality of the Iberian Peninsula, which has an interconnection problem with the rest of Europe and is “an energy island”.
Specifically, he explained that Spain and Portugal only have 2.8% interconnections of their energy market with European, so they have some peculiarities that harm both countries with the price of gas. For this reason, he said that the two countries have proposed a “rigorous proposal from the technical point of view, solid and that does not call into question at all the functioning of the European energy market.”
Caps on gas plants
Spain and Portugal have proposed putting limits on the offers of natural gas plants in the electricity market. “It is important to find a formula that fits the geographical and energy reality of the Peninsula, which is an energy island,” he insisted.
Asking if that specific solution did not go against his defense that there be a common response to the electricity bill and not different responses, he repeated that his wish is that there is an agreement by all. “But being aware that this may take a few weeks, we propose to the member states that we respond to the peculiarity of the Peninsula,” he reiterated.
In this sense, he presented a roadmap with steps that “are not incompatible” and that includes adopting urgent measures more in line with the geographical reality of the Peninsula and its connectivity, then negotiating joint gas purchases and, finally, addressing a reform structure of the energy market.
Sánchez had expressed his confidence that an agreement that is good for Europe and the Iberian Peninsula would be possible in this Council and assured that he attends this debate with a constructive spirit.
Given the criticism from the Netherlands in which Sánchez was described as a “Don Quixote” for his proposals on energy, he pointed out that “these are things that are read, but the Prime Minister has not told me anything about that Dutch”. However, he assured that he understands that there are countries that have doubts when adopting certain measures.
The President of the Government stressed that after this summit the Government will approve on March 29 a national response plan to the economic and social consequences of the war in Ukraine and that it will include measures to deal with the rise in energy prices.