The anger in Moncloa is infinite and the third vice president arrives in Brussels this Thursday ready to fight a very tough battle. Spain flatly rejects the proposal of the European Commission to establish a price limit for all gas imports into the EU. Teresa Ribera he has come to describe it as a “tease” for reflecting “unfulfillable conditions”.

But above all, the Government of Spain arrives loaded with reasons and allies. Pedro Sánchez will send through Ribera to the European Energy Council, this Thursday, a very harsh message. “We are already 14 countries that are against, at least”, warn official sources of Ecological Transition. “Either they withdraw that proposal or we will stop supporting the Commission on other issues,” threatens the Spanish government.

The Sánchez government will even force a qualified majority vote, if necessary, to reject the proposal. For this they need 55% of countries representing at least 65% of the population of the EU. And Spain considers that both thresholds are exceeded with the countries that have already confirmed that they are on its side.

It must be remembered that last September, Sánchez led the sending of a letter to Brussels in which, together with 13 other heads of state and government, they claimed a proposal to put a gas price limit in the European Union ahead of the Energy Council meeting on September 30, to then prepare a legislative proposal.

The letter was sent by the Ministers of Energy of Spain, Portugal, Greece, Poland, Italy, Malta, Romania, Croatia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia and Belgium. The rebellion has now also been joined by the France of Emmanuel Macronaccording to Spanish government sources.

late and wrong

“The proposal has arrived too late and it is highly unsatisfactory,” a spokesperson for the vice president points out to this newspaper. The reality is that the document was issued by the commissioner’s college on Tuesday, just 48 hours after the Council of Energy Ministers was held.

And that its terms “only satisfy” the countries that were already reluctant to the idea. That is to say, Germany and the Netherlands, “in addition to some Nordic to whom the matter affects less.”

The president of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, this Tuesday at the headquarters of the European Parliament in Strasbourg

European Parliament

If it enters into force as designed, the model of Ursula von der Leyen, Brussels would leave Spain, in the medium term, in a position of extreme weakness. And it is that This is the mechanism that should replace the so-called “Iberian exception”. A system that Moncloa sold as a triumph for Sánchez in the extraordinary Council in March, but which is temporary and will only work, at most, until the end of 2023.

If nothing changed, Spain would be left without the system that today benefits it -in fact, that compensates it for the energy insulation to which his partners have submitted him and the billionaire investments made for decades to alleviate it – and, in return, would be subjected to another very damaging one.

Since its entry into force, last June, this Iberian exception has lowered energy prices on the Peninsula. From an average of 270 euros per MW/h-with peaks above 570 at the start of the war – at levels closer to those at the start of the bullish rally: this Wednesday, the price stood at the 150 euros per MW/h.

Thus, in Spain and Portugal the electricity bill has been decoupled from the gas bill. A market that is inflated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, by the cut off of Moscow’s supply to central and eastern Europe (Holland and Germany, among them) and by the tensions between our country and the Algerian government (after the turn of Sánchez with the Sahara and Morocco).

But since the measure is only transitory, the model proposed by the Commission would mean “a regression” for Spain, according to the sources consulted in the Vice Presidency of Ribera. Something like going back to the moment before the entry into force of the measure.

“Because the proposed price cap, of 275 euros per MW/h, is too high,” explains a spokesman for the Ministry, “only exceeded once in the worst of the crisis.” According to government sources, the document distributed by Brussels is simply “unachievable.”

The fear of Brussels

So why does the Commission propose a mechanism with such a myopic vision, according to Spain? Brussels’ obsession is to preserve under all circumstances the single energy market and, at the same time, maintain the EU’s competitiveness in global markets.

For the first, Von der Leyen requires an agreement from the Twenty-seven. For the second, he demonstrates having bought the reasons of the Executive Olaf Schölzwhich fears that the main Community competitor, that is, China, will pay more and take away the supplies.

Intermediary companies that sell natural gas and LNG (liquefied) to Europe could be discouraged with a lower cap. And to keep your profits, they would take us out of the market taking advantage of the immense demand from Beijing.

But the 15 allies, with Spain in the lead, refute that argument with two others: on the one hand, that European reserves are at the top, which is a justified reason for offering less payment price. And on the other, that “there overbooking of methane tankers waiting on our coasts”, the Spanish ones, “to unload LNG”.

Reasons for Berlin and Amsterdam

Furthermore, despite its dependence on Russian gas from which it is trying to recover, Berlin is playing the marked cards. Within the EU, the program of subsidies to companies for more than 200,000 million euros promoted by Germany has felt very bad.

This plan breaks the unity of the market, according to some governments, taking advantage of the fiscal muscle enjoyed by the largest economy in the Union and putting the rest of the community partners at a clear disadvantage. In this scenario, German companies will be able to continue facing the very high energy prices with government aid… and end up ‘swallowing up’ its competitors from the rest of the EU.

“If there is no cap on gas, there will be inflation, but they will be able to sustain themselves and the others will not,” claim sources from the European Parliament. Ribera herself has warned of the selfishness and risk of this German bet: “There is no money in the world that can sustain it”warns the third vice president.

For its part, Amsterdam is reluctant to lose the huge income it receives from the TTF benchmark, a kind of virtual market linked to the port of Rotterdam. Since the 1970s, when North Sea gas began to be exploited, it is estimated that the Netherlands has suffered revenues of around 160,000 million euros.

The Heads of State and Government instructed the Commission to include in its working document an alternative benchmark proposal. But Brussels has not complied. The sources consulted state that neither Spain nor the other 14 rebels they intend to eliminate it, but to accompany it with a more realistic one, because the TTF, under current market conditions, “encourages speculation”.

Source: Elespanol

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J. A. Allen

Author, blogger, freelance writer. Hater of spiders. Drinker of wine. Mother of hellions.

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