Ahead of this week’s EU summit, Spain has urged the bloc to implement urgent and coordinated measures to mitigate rising energy prices, warning of a “risk” that energy shortages could last beyond next winter in Europe.
“We believe it is necessary to start this debate now and urgently”, the Secretary of State for the European Union, Juan González-Barba, said on Tuesday.
Spain has asked that the energy price hikes be among the top issues dealt with by EU leaders at an EU summit on Thursday and Friday in Brussels.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez will hold a bilateral meeting on Thursday with the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, hours before the summit to discuss the issue of energy prices, Spanish officials told EFE.
On Tuesday, González-Barba stressed that the Spanish Government wants “to accelerate this debate” and not postpone it as the EU Commission wants, for the medium and long term- because “there is a risk that as of April the current circumstances may have not disappeared”, González-Barba said.
Last month, the Spanish government proposed a series of measures to tackle the volatility of energy prices, such as joint gas purchases. It has called for “exceptional measures” to respond to the crisis, including taking gas out of the marginal pricing system while prices remain exceptionally high.
The European Commission, however, considers that EU member states have sufficient tools to deal with the energy shortage – such as subsidising poor households – and decided to postpone proposals put forward by Spain, such as the joint purchase of gas to create strategic reserves or a reform of the electricity market.
“We will explore the potential benefits and design of voluntary joint procurement of reserve gas stocks” – provided those are “in line with energy market regulation and the EU competition rules,” the Commission said.
Spain is leading a group of countries including France, Greece, the Czech Republic and Romania against the Brussels position, which is supported by Germany.
(Fernando Heller | EuroEFE)