In Spain has had one of the hottest summers in weeks. There is also no shortage of natural gas. It is therefore difficult for many Spaniards to put themselves in the position of the Germans, who are already afraid of a cold winter. For other reasons, too, German politicians could not count on too much understanding on the Iberian Peninsula. Germany has endangered the continent’s security with its dependence on Russian gas imports, the newspaper “El País” wrote in an editorial after the agreement on the EU emergency plan, which is intended to reduce gas consumption. “The dock of history will judge. Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, and especially former Chancellor Angela Merkel, will most likely be held accountable,” it says of the chancellor, whom many Spaniards admired until recently.
After the recent dispute in Brussels, the Spanish Environment Minister Teresa Ribera is looking ahead. Previously, she had not mentioned Germany by name, but everyone understood who she meant when the deputy prime minister said: “Unlike other countries, we Spaniards did not live beyond our potential when it comes to energy.” During the great financial crisis in Berlin and other northern capitals, Spain and Portugal were accused of living beyond their means. Similar voices could now be heard from Lisbon as from Madrid.
“Making energy accessible to others”
“Spain believes that anyone who asks for help should be helped,” Teresa Ribera told F.AZ. However, the solidarity that the EU has called for must be efficient and have an impact. “It’s not just about reducing consumption, it’s about making energy accessible to others,” said the minister. The original approach of the EU Commission was too limited and did not include measures that could effectively help to provide the other EU Member States with access to energy. “We were surprised that only savings were proposed, even in cases where there is no possibility of sending the saved gas to third countries,” said the minister, referring to Spain and Portugal, which only have two smaller pipelines so far connected to the rest of Europe.
According to Ribera, Spain has therefore been working for months on increasing the capacity of its pipelines and gas storage facilities. For example, larger LNG tankers could unload at Spanish terminals, where the gas would be transferred to smaller ships that would distribute it to other European ports. In the end, at the most recent meeting of EU energy ministers, Spain agreed to reduce its gas consumption by seven percent instead of the 15 percent originally demanded by the EU.
It is now important that the European democrats unite to set a sign of “effective solidarity” in view of the attempt by Russian President Vladimir Putin to split the EU. In the meantime, however, the Spanish government is also planning concrete austerity measures. The temperatures in public buildings, offices and means of transport should only be cooled to 27 degrees in summer and heated to 19 degrees in winter.