SSpain and Portugal had fought over Midcat. In the end “Barmar” came out of it. A “green energy corridor” under the Mediterranean Sea is to connect Barcelona with Marseille and close the huge gap that still exists between the Iberian Peninsula and the rest of Europe. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa had tried in vain to convince French President Emmanuel Macron of the other option, the above-ground Midcat pipeline (“Midi-Catalonia”) from Catalonia to the French Midi region.
The federal government had hoped that this pipeline across the Pyrenees would initially supply Germany with gas and later with “green” hydrogen produced from renewable energy sources. It was only on Friday that Olaf Scholz spoke to Sánchez and Costa in Berlin about the project, which the Chancellor had previously “explicitly” promoted. But even a last attempt by the two Iberian heads of government at the beginning of the EU summit in Brussels failed: Macron prevailed, and all three ultimately declared themselves winners. Spain’s “weight” in the EU’s energy supply is growing and the country is finally getting the much-needed connection to Europe, Environment Minister Teresa Ribera said on Friday.
For the French President, agreement on the Barcelona-Marseille “green energy corridor” marks a major diplomatic breakthrough. The Elysee watched with growing annoyance as the German government pressed to complete the Midcat pipeline across the Pyrenees. On one occasion, Macron also publicly aired his irritation and said in response to a journalist’s question that Midcat was not the Chancellor’s affair. The fact that the Midcat project is now finally being abandoned is seen in Paris as a negotiation success.
Macron and Scholz want to move forward
In Brussels, Macron hit more conciliatory tones in the early hours of the morning. A meeting with Scholz is scheduled in Paris on Wednesday to “move forward”. The focus should be on energy issues. The French government has repeatedly argued against Midcat as a gas link through protected natural areas and wine-growing areas. Above all, she saw technical difficulties in converting the existing gas connections in the Rhone Valley for the transport of hydrogen. In addition, there is a suspicion in Paris that the dependence on natural gas, which the federal government describes as a “bridging technology”, could last much longer than currently stated. Therefore, there was reluctance to build a new infrastructure for fossil fuels.
In Brussels, Macron emphasized how much the planned green corridor should “contribute to strengthening the energy transition” and facilitate access to alternative energy sources in Europe. France suspects that Germany will not meet its climate targets for CO2-Emission could give up with reference to the cessation of Russian gas supplies. The joint communiqué of the three heads of state and government expressly mentions that the maritime connection from Barcelona to Marseille should only be used for a “limited share of natural gas” as a “temporary and transitional energy source”.