Business & Economy

EU approves “special treatment” for Spain, Portugal on energy prices

Brussels, Mar 25 (EFE).- The leaders of the 25 other European Union member-states agreed here Friday that Spain and Portugal can deviate from the bloc’s rules on energy pricing amid the spike in costs due to market disruptions arising from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“Indeed the Iberian peninsula has a very special situation,” European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen told a press conference after more than nine hours of often-contentious talks in Brussels.

The energy mix in Spain and Portugal, she said, has “a high load of renewables” but very few interconnections with other EU countries.

“Therefore, we agreed on a special treatment that is possible for the Iberian peninsula so that the Iberian peninsula can deal with this very specific situation they are in and manage the electricity prices in the way that we have been discussing,” she said.

And while Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Portuguese Premier Antonio Costa could not persuade a majority of their counterparts to embrace their proposal to delink electric rates from the price of natural gas, they did secure permission to ease the burden on consumers in their countries.

“Sustained high energy prices have an increasingly negative impact on citizens and businesses, which is further compounded by the Russian military aggression against Ukraine,” the 27 heads of government said in the final summit statement.

The leaders urged the European Commission to “submit proposals that effectively address the problem of excessive electricity prices while preserving the integrity of the single market.”

They likewise called for the “refilling of gas storage across the Union.”

The summit also produced accord on authorizing member-states to band together on a voluntary basis to purchase gas in bulk.

“The root cause of high electricity prices is, in big part, high and volatile gas prices,” Von der Leyen said. “So we will join forces, pool our demand and use our collective bargaining power when purchasing gas. In addition, we must complete pipeline infrastructure and ramp up our storage.” EFE asa/dr

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