EU to brace for ‘starkest’ winter as due to 'energy war'
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This comes after France U-turned on the issue. Previously, President Macron was in opposition to developing the MidCat pipeline to supply gas to Europe. The French Government had said it was opposed to developing the infrastructure to build the pipeline.
But in the latest development, French Minister for the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, said that when “friends ask for it”, France cannot refuse to at least look at the project.
The move comes after Spanish president Pedro Sánchez and German chancellor Olaf Scholz put pressure on France for the development of the MidCat.
Mr Scholz said that the “current crisis” had emphasised the importance of European cooperation on energy.
Meanwhile, Mr Sanchez said Spain is “ready to do everything possible to help the countries that currently suffer the most from dependence on Russian gas and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s energy blackmail.”
The pipeline would be a 227-kilometre pipe through the Pyrenees to connect the gas networks of Spain and France.
The infrastructure would run from the Catalan town of Hostalric to the French town of Barbaira.
It could increase gas exports to the rest of Europe from the Winter of 2023, according to government estimates-.
According to the National Gas Company, it could cost as much as E370million to complete.
Signalling a change in stance on the pipeline, Mr Le Maire said: “As soon as the Spanish Prime Minister and the German Chancellor ask for it, as soon as our friends ask for it, we will examine the request of our friends, of our partners.”
Following the announcement, Spain’s Minister for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, Teresa Ribera, said: “There has been a move in the right direction that demonstrates the French government’s commitment to Europe”.
This comes as Western countries are attempting to phase out their reliance on Russian oil and gas amid the war in Ukraine.
Russia supplied the EU with 40 percent of its natural gas last year.
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Germany, Europe’s largest economy, was the largest importer in 2021, followed by Italy.
Lithuania and Finland got about 80 percent of their oil from Russia in November last year.
The EU has said it will cut gas imports from Russia by two-thirds within the next year.
However, the bloc has stopped short of a total ban.
EU member states have agreed to cut gas usage by 15 percent over the next seven months.
The US has declared a complete ban on Russian oil imports, and the volume of oil imports by the UK has fallen sharply in the last year.
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