In the midst of the energy crisis, Europeans increasingly divided

Faced with the surge in energy prices and the question of the measures to be taken in order to reduce the bill and not jeopardize the economic recovery after the Covid-19 crisis, the Twenty-Seven are appearing more and more divided. In the short term, they all know that Europe can do nothing and that only actions at national level are possible. Moreover, nineteen of them, including France, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy, have already decided to reduce taxes and various subsidies. In the longer term, however, they do not share the same diagnosis. The Council of European Energy Ministers, Tuesday, October 26, once again highlighted these divisions between three camps. And it is difficult to see on what ground a compromise could be built.

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On the one hand, the northern European Union (EU) countries, which see the current surge in energy prices as a purely cyclical phenomenon, therefore defend the status quo. Neither the European electricity or gas market nor the measures taken to combat global warming within the framework of the Green Deal Austria, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Latvia and the Countries -Low.

Conversely, France, Spain, Greece, Romania and the Czech Republic advocate an overhaul of the gas market through better coordination of supplies – or even joint storage or purchases – and a reform of the gas market. electricity market, functioning « aberrant », as the French Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire has often said. “Each increase of 1 euro per megawatt hour in the price of natural gas represents an additional cost, in terms of electricity bills, of 2.7 billion euros for European consumers”, Madrid wrote in a statement on the subject Monday evening.

Foreign gas dependency

Today, the price of electricity is indexed to that of back-up energy sources, which prevent any disruption of supply, that is to say, most often, gas-fired power stations. or charcoal. France, which derives 70% of its production from its nuclear power plants, or Spain, which has invested a lot in renewables, want this price to include, in one way or another, the cost of production – less high in their case – from the country where it is made.

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“This proposal makes no sense for other European countries which produce their electricity from gas”, confides a diplomat. Particularly affected by the surge in electricity, Spain is asking the Commission, if structural reform is not undertaken, to consider a system that would allow a Member State, in exceptional cases. , to abstain from this operation.

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