EU countries will show solidarity in energy crunch – chancellor Scholz
Clean Energy Wire
[UPDATE adds paragraph on third relief package]
German chancellor Olaf Scholz has said he is confident European Union member states will show solidarity in the energy crisis exacerbated by Russia’s war against Ukraine. “We have taken decisions to improve our energy supply and to ensure that we create European infrastructures that make mutual support easier,” Scholz told journalists at a press conference in Berlin. “That's why I'm sure that - if things get tight now - we will continue to show solidarity. Germany will in any case.”
The chancellor advocated for building up energy infrastructure that would ensure a necessary level of supply diversification, which he said Germany had failed to do in the past. He said the country should have already set up a domestic LNG import infrastructure – “and be it as a purely state-financed investment”. He added: “Even if concentrating on one supplier in one place is the cheapest, I'd rather have two or three in different places for very central things.” Once Germany has enough LNG import capacity “it might be somewhat more expensive to procure gas due to the situation on the world market, but we will always get some.”
Scholz said he was concerned by the decision to discard plans to build a pipeline from Portugal and Spain through France to Central Europe. “This would now make a massive contribution to easing the supply situation.” Scholz said he had spoken with leaders in those countries in hopes of the project being considered again. In general, building new gas pipelines would not lead to a fossil fuel lock-in, the chancellor argued. “All the LNG terminals that we are building now, all the pipelines, they will be developed and invested in so that they can also be used for hydrogen imports.”
Germany and Europe are facing a difficult winter, as Russia is increasingly falling away as a key energy supplier. Worries about a possible halt to gas deliveries have brought the issue of solidarity between member states, in case of a shortage this winter, to the forefront.
Scholz also promised a third relief package for citizens facing rising prices for food and energy. "Citizens can count on us not to abandon them," he said, and repeated his earlier quote of the British football anthem: “You’ll never walk alone.” He did not give details about the size, make-up or when it would be introduced. Asked about whether he expected unrest in the fall due to the high prices, he said: “No, I don’t think there will be any unrest in this country in the form outlined.”