Sánchez takes lead in European fight against skyrocketing energy prices

by Lorraine Williamson
Spain´s Sánchez and EU energy prices

MADRID – The Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced a tour of European leaders on Friday, his aim being to unite positions against the rise in energy prices and make Europe more resilient, including in this area. 

Sánchez wants to speak to the European leaders before the meeting of the heads of state and government. This is due to take place at the end of March in Brussels, where important decisions are expected.   

At a press conference after the informal European summit in Versailles, France, the Spanish head of government did not give any details about which countries he will visit. However, he did stress he is trying to form alliances and a ‘proposal’ for the ‘irrational’ rise in energy prices.   

Sánchez calls measures urgent and necessary 

According to Sánchez, the measures are ‘not only urgent but also necessary’. He also specifically mentioned the decoupling of the gas price from the electricity price. And, furthermore explained that during the summit, countries such as Belgium, Italy and Greece put forward options to reduce the impact of gas on the price of electricity.  

In any case, Sánchez stressed that this is a ‘two-way debate’. And, furthermore, the ordinary summit at the end of the month in Brussels will be the moment to take real action at the European level, once the Commission has put new options on the table to curb the phenomenon.   

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Protection against economic blackmail by Russia 

‘The government will do everything to protect industry and business so that they are not held hostage to the economic blackmail to which Vladimir Putin is subjecting the EU,’ the Prime Minister said at the press conference, linking the market situation to the war in Ukraine. Sources at the Moncloa government palace indicated that Sánchez will wait for the debate to develop at the European level. However, it made it clear Spain is prepared to ‘make its own decisions’ if the leaders fail to reach agreement.   

March 24 and 25 key dates 

The statement following the Versailles meeting, EU-27 leaders instructed the European executive to propose measures ‘by the end of March’. This is with the clear aim of having them discussed at the 24-25 March summit.  

In this context, France’s President Macron, who is also the rotating president of the EU, confirmed European heads of state and government will look “in a very concrete way” at how to “accompany” consumers and businesses to cope with the blow of rising prices.  

Making the EU more resilient 

The text approved by leaders also mentions improving Europe’s dependence on gas and electricity. This is something that has been welcomed by Spain. Spain hopes the EU will use European funds to finance the Midcat gas pipeline linking Spain to France. ‘If we assume that this crisis will last for years, it is important that we make the EU more resilient. This is especially important in the field of energy policy,’ Sánchez summarised. 

Also read: Electricity price continues to rise

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