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2022-03-30 at 17h30

European Council acknowledges Spain and Portugal’s energy specificity

Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa and the President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sanchez, at a joint press conference at the end of the European Council, Brussels, 25 March 2022 (photo: EU)

The Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa and the President of the Spanish Government gave a joint press conference at the end of the European Council held in Brussels on 24 and 25 March. The Prime Minister noted the measures taken on energy, one of the items on the agenda. 

António Costa claimed that the war waged by Russia against Ukraine "yields global effects. The shrapnel of each Russian bomb hits us all, namely our economies, the costs of our companies’ operations and the life of European people". 

"In this Council we reaffirmed the long-term strategic measures": "the need to accelerate the energy transition and investing in renewables in order to achieve energy autonomy in Europe" and to "ensure interconnections between all EU states, to guarantee the effective existence of a single energy market", he claimed. 

The Prime Minister added that "this crisis had the capacity to unblock a subject that had been dragging for years, which is the interconnection between Portugal, Spain and France, of the Iberian Peninsula with the rest of the European market, as France today has a clear position with regard to this interconnection, which was specifically offered as essential in the recent Commission’s communication".

Short-term measures

"Along with these strategic dimensions, we need to act in the short run to face two problems", he said. The first is "the guarantee that we won’t be short on energy, to which the endorsement made by the Council to the Commission to develop a joint procurement process to ensure energy security next winter was very important. I recall how a year and a half ago the joint procurement of vaccines was so important".

For the second, "important decisions were made for reducing prices", where the European Commission presented "various types of measure that can be adopted". "The Council tasked the Commission to, jointly with the Energy Ministers, make concrete decisions on these measures, from setting ceilings on prices to cutting back taxes, namely VAT, among others".

Portugal and Spain’s specificity

António Costa underlined that "the Iberian Peninsula’s specific situation was acknowledged in the Council, which, in terms of energy, is an Island. This represented the Commission being tasked with offer a response to the proposals Portugal and Spain will present formally next week", which the Commission undertook to do "in a very short timeframe". 

The aim of the measures to take "is to ensure that the rising gas prices won’t continue to reflect on rising electricity prices. For this, we will set a ceiling on gas prices and thereby obtain a significant cut in the cost of energy, with major savings for households and companies", he said.

The Prime Minister also noted that "at the time when we were overcoming the pandemic and it was necessary to focus all our efforts on the economic recovery, and when we are still facing the consequences of this war, it is essential that we have better energy prices" and "with these measures we will be able to do so without compromising the European market’s integrity".

"These measures will be temporary and in no circumstance should they keep us from solving the structural issue, ensuring that we are no longer an Island on the European market", he claimed.

António Costa thanked the excellent work that we undertook together [with the Spanish Government] over these last few months, very intensely in the last few weeks, so that together with the European Commission, we can have a pre-designed set of measures that, in the next week, we will present formally to the European Commission".

Transatlantic unity

The Prime Minister also underlined the "highly symbolic and strong moment that was having the President of the United States of America, Joe Biden, at the European Council, after we were together in the North Atlantic Council, giving a clear message of transatlantic unity, cooperation between the EU and NATO and the joint response to guarantee European security and defence, as well as the joint response to the war waged by Russia by invading Ukraine".

"The message that came out was one of clear support to the struggle of the Ukrainian people for national independence, support in supplying military equipment, humanitarian aid, so the struggle can continue, and the guarantee of international protection of all Ukrainian citizens or residents in Ukraine that want to find in the European Union the security and safety they don’t have in Ukraine today", he said.

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