MADRID – The Spanish prime minister Sánchez proposed on Wednesday that the European Commission should take the lead in the joint buying of gas by the EU-27. Sánchez also expressed openness to enhanced cooperation if not all member states support measures to tackle the energy price crisis.
After Spain launched the debate on energy prices at the European level at the EU summit in Slovenia, the head of government called for a “step-by-step” approach and insisted that the European Commission should negotiate on behalf of member states to buy energy. Although he had the impression that the majority of EU countries would be in favour, Sánchez proposed – in the event that a member state rejected the option – enhanced cooperation between the interested parties. He explicitly stated that this cooperation should be formulated in harmony with the private sector.
The Prime Minister stressed that the increase in gas and electricity prices is a European matter. One that concerns all Member States and he reiterated that the EU is stronger when acting together. He drew a parallel with the contracts for buying vaccines, where Brussels led the negotiations with the pharmaceutical companies. He also suggested that the reform of the marginalised market should be reconsidered at European level. It is time for a ‘thorough review’ of a system that is no longer satisfactory. Because it favours the most expensive energy sources at the expense of renewables.
The Spanish government has been fighting on several fronts to invest the issue of electricity prices at European level. According to Sánchez, it is now a matter of waiting for the steps taken at the meeting of energy ministers and the proposal of the European Commission, which will present a series of measures to tackle the issue next week. This is all ahead of the summit at the end of this month in Brussels. At the summit, European leaders will once again discuss the energy price crisis.
Spain joins forces with allies
Spain has joined forces with those of France, the Czech Republic, Greece, and Romania to form a common front against rising energy prices. Among other things, the countries are pushing for wholesale market reform and coordinated gas purchases. Sánchez and Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis opened fire on the issue at the informal dinner of EU leaders ahead of Wednesday’s EU-Balkans summit.