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19 Aug 2022, 12:51
Benjamin Wehrmann

Uniper’s €12 bln loss must be wake-up call for changing German energy policy – opinion

WirtschaftsWoche

The “terrifying” loss of twelve billion euros that Germany’s largest gas importer Uniper posted in the first six months of 2022 must be a wake-up call for German energy policy that the country never again must make itself as dependent on one energy supplier as it did with Russia, Florian Güßgen writes in an opinion piece for business weekly WirtschaftsWoche. “Every single euro is a warning to policymakers,” Güßgen writes, adding that the company only avoided bankruptcy thanks to a bailout by German taxpayers. Uniper, which supplies some 100 local utilities in the country with gas, is “simply too systemically relevant, too big to fail” to leave it to deal with its own strategic mistakes, Güßgen argues. “The state taking a stake and saving Finnish-owned Uniper with billions in credits is the right thing to do,” which is why the controversial gas levy, for all its faults, is the “socially most acceptable” solution to the current predicament, he says. However, the company’s immense loss “is a first receipt for Germany’s insatiable addiction to cheap Russian gas [...] Never become this dependent again! Not on autocracies, not on democracies. Not with energy and not with other supply chains,” for which Chinese dominance in solar panel production is just another example, Güßgen argues.

The German government in July said it will take a 30 percent stake in Europe’s largest Russian gas importer Uniper to save it from bankruptcy due to skyrocketing prices. It also introduced a gas consumption levy that will be used to protect gas importers and avoid a market collapse, a controversial measure that is said to add further financial pressure on households and businesses already struggling with high energy prices. 

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