Scholz wants gas pipeline linking south, central Europe
Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Thursday he was seeking to shore up interest among European partners for a gas pipeline funnelling energy from southern to central Europe, as Germany scrambles to wind down Russian energy.
“I have been very active in talks with my two colleagues in Spain and Portugal, but also the French president and the president of the European Commission in advocating that we should take on such a project,” he said.
A pipeline running through Portugal, Spain and France to central Europe is “conspicuously absent”, the chancellor told journalists.
If it existed, it would “now make a massive contribution to relieving and easing the supply situation”.
Energy exporter Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has upended the power market, sending prices soaring and countries scrambling for supplies.
Germany has been looking across the world to make up for an energy shortfall after Russia curtailed exports to the European economic giant, which has been heavily reliant on Russian gas.
Energy bills for German households are expected to double in the next months, while industry has also warned earnings would be hit by the power crunch.
Scholz did not give further details on the pipeline he was eyeing.
A project called Midcat to link Portugal, Spain and France was launched in 2013, but it drew opposition from environmental groups and work was halted in 2019 when financing fell through.
In the wake of the Ukraine conflict, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen has called for the resumption of the project, saying it carries geopolitical importance.
The Spanish government is also favourable about resurrecting the pipeline project.
However, it is not keen to contribute to the estimated 440 million euros ($455 million) in financing needed as the project would not directly benefit Spain.