Pedro Sanchez, the Prime Minister of Spain, argued that gas interconnection from Spain to the rest of the countries should be funded by the European Union (EU).
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has produced a negative impact that has reverberated across the world. Europe’s economy was not spared. Energy prices have been increasing at unprecedented rates over the past few months. However, this burdensome trend doesn’t seem to be stopping and could continue indefinitely.
Despite this, the Spanish government remains confident in their capacity to cope with the situation. Officials believe that Spain will not be hit too hard as compared to the rest of the European Union. This can be attributed to the number of regasification plants found within the country, which is the largest network there is in all of Europe.
In an unofficial conversation with journalists on a trip to Latvia, Prime Minister Sanchez said that “the debate on interconnections is not a problem for Spain, it is a problem for other countries.”
But the country will not keep this sought-after resource all to themselves. Spanish authorities have expressed that they would be willing to support the gas interconnection from Spain to other countries. By doing so, they can have access to natural gas without having to rely too much on supplies coming from Russia. It can promote the independence of the EU with regard to the resource of energy, making them less vulnerable to unpredictable social and political environments elsewhere.
However, this support does not come in the form of financial investments. The construction of facilities required to deliver gas out of the country has a price. And Prime Minister Sanchez believes that it should not be paid off by Spain. Instead, it should come from the budget of the EU.
At the same time, infrastructure should not just be limited to natural gas. There should also be provisions for the development of facilities for green hydrogen. This will be advantageous for all countries since it will ensure access to an uninterrupted supply of energy. More than that, it will also greatly contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions and the achievement of carbon neutrality by the year 2050.
Citizens of the country are “already paying for regasification facilities. The price for the regasification is paid by us, the consumers. If we wish to offer Europe our reserve capacities, which are above 60% while the EU’s is at 30%, it is not Spain but Europe that has to fund it,” the Prime Minister added.
Spain becoming a major European gas reception hub has been welcomed by the European Commission. However, the problem lies in moving gas out of the country and into the rest of Europe. In 2019, the Midi-Catalonia, or MidCat, project was rejected by the energy regulators of Spain and France. It was supposed to build a gas pipeline that connected the two countries.
With the energy crisis currently happening, the MidCat project is put into the limelight once more. However, it is not expected to address the urgent needs now because years of construction are still needed. Nevertheless, the Spanish Prime Minister has preempted that investing in gas interconnection from Spain to Europe should be paid for by the EU. It is not a burden that should be carried just by Spain alone.
Apart from this, the EU should also focus on adjusting its fiscal rules, which the country has been eager about for quite some time. In particular, it should be a proposal that “stimulates growth, guarantees fiscal sustainability, and addresses the digital and ecological transformation.”