Sunday, March 26

Sánchez reaffirms, together with Scholz, his intention to accelerate the interconnection of gas via France or Italy

The energy crisis is the concern of European governments, including the European Commission itself, which will address market intervention. Winter preparation has been the main objective of executives in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and, although it is more or less solved thanks to the increase in storage, the search for solutions to the gas shortage continues if Russia turns off the tap. And this situation has made the eyes of several European countries fix their eyes on Spain, especially Germany, which is one of the states with the greatest energy dependence on Moscow. Within this framework, Foreign Minister Olaf Scholz has invited Pedro Sánchez to participate in a meeting of his Government at the Meseberg Palace in Gransee in which they have insisted on the desire to have the Midcat gas pipeline to favor the delivery of gas to the heart of Europe via France, but the resistance of Emmanuel Macron leads Sánchez to reaffirm his commitment to do it through Italy if there are no changes.

Sánchez and Scholz show the new “tuning” of Spain and Germany despite discrepancies in debates that will mark the future of the EU

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The Spanish president reaffirmed before Scholz Spain’s will to “contribute all its capabilities” to help the most needy countries. “Spain concentrates 30% of the regasification capacity and we cannot use it completely due to a bottleneck”, lamented Sánchez: “This is what we have to solve. Spain is willing to show solidarity and respond to the call of our brother countries that are suffering from blackmail”. That is why Sánchez has emphasized the need to “accelerate the interconnections” that would favor the arrival of gas from Spain to central Europe through France. “Another possibility is also outlined, which is the interconnection between the Iberian Peninsula and Italy”, the Spanish president has expressed about the possible plan B in case the Midcat is not developed “at the right pace”.

The appearance of Scholz and Sánchez largely seeks to pressure Macron to give up his positions regarding the gas pipeline that connects both countries through the Pyrenees. The German chancellor has also opted to improve interconnections as the great “task” pending. However, he has been calmer than at the beginning of the crisis thanks to the increase in the level of storage. “We cannot say that we have solved everything, but we are much more relaxed seeing the situation,” he declared.

This is not the first time that the Spanish Government has made its regasification capacity and its willingness to launch a new gas pipeline through the Pyrenees available to Germany and the rest of its European partners. The third vice president and minister for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, Teresa Ribera, already assured a few days ago that, if it depends on Spain, this infrastructure can be ready before next summer. “The interconnection through the Catalan Pyrenees can be operational in eight or nine months on the southern border side. That is why it is essential to go hand in hand with France”. In fact, it is the French Government that is most reluctant to build it, due to the level of investment it would entail. Hence, a key piece to know if it will go ahead is if it is financed with EU funds.

Specifically, France would have to make a “security investment in its transport network”, as Ribera pointed out in an interview on La Sexta, “because the pressures at which the gas would circulate are different”. A gas pipeline that, he acknowledged, until now “is not part of the priorities”, but “it is a pro-European country”, added Ribera.

The alternative, Plan B, is to build a gas pipeline that joins Spain and Italy and that would involve an investment of 1,500 million for each country -again, susceptible to European financing- but that would take longer to be built and operational. According to the calculations handled by Enagás, the manager of the Spanish gas network, this gas pipeline could be operational in the year 2028.

I wish to travel to Algeria

Sánchez has expressed his desire to travel to Algeria in response to a question addressed to both leaders after countries such as France and Italy have reached profitable agreements with the North African country that maintains practically broken ties with Spain after the recomposition of relations with Morocco . Since the beginning of this crisis, the Spanish Government has ensured that there was not going to be a problem with the supply of Algerian gas since the contracts had already been signed. However, it has been losing positions and now other countries, such as the United States, are the main gas suppliers to Spain.

In the Government they have always tried to downplay the Algerian reaction, although the breakdown of trade relations led the Foreign Minister, José Manuel Albares, to appear before the EU to file a complaint about possible discriminatory treatment with a member state. Brussels even threatened Algeria with reprisals. The situation has not yet been recomposed and the diplomatic relationship is practically null. However, the president has responded that he “would love” to go to Algeria.

Sánchez has taken advantage of his presence in Germany to highlight that relations between the two countries are going through an “excellent moment” and has announced that the king and queen will make a state visit to that country on October 5 and 6 as one of the relevant “milestones” this year, among which he also mentioned the invitation to the Frankfurt Book Fair.