“We are working on an emergency intervention and a structural reform of the electricity market.” The phrase is not from Pedro Sánchez, Yolanda Díaz or any defender of degrowth as a response to the climate emergency. It is not a slogan of those who are committed to the nationalization of the fundamental productive sectors, such as the energy sector. These are the words with which the president of the European Commission, the German conservative Ursula von der Leyen, announced an urgent meeting in which the EU countries are going to retire one of the neoliberal axioms that are rampant in Brussels. The idea has been met with cheers in the coalition government. And also in the PP, which now embraces a thesis that it harshly criticized when Sánchez proposed and negotiated a cap on gas in the community capital.
The EU will meet urgently to address the intervention of the electricity market
The attacks of the PP against the mere possibility of an intervention in the electricity market date back to the autumn of 2021, with Pablo Casado at the head of the party and when the tension between Russia and Ukraine accumulated over the years began to affect the price of gas, one of the the main sources of electricity generation in Europe. Russia was then, and until recently, the main exporter of this raw material to the EU.
“Stop threatening companies and intervening in the markets to achieve absolutely nothing,” said the PP’s parliamentary spokesperson at the time, Cuca Gamarra, who today adds that of general secretary to this position. “They are a risk to investment in our country, ladies and gentlemen,” confirmed Deputy Mario Garcés, today deputy spokesman in Congress.
That same month, the coalition government approved a royal decree law “on urgent measures to mitigate the impact of the rise in natural gas prices in the retail gas and electricity markets”, and which cut the profits of energy companies due to the energy production that does not emit CO2. The Executive’s move came after that same summer different large energy companies squeezed the swamps to sell the electricity generated by the waterfalls “at the price of gas”.
The PP MEP Esteban González Pons, today deputy secretary of Institutional Policy and Feijóo’s right-hand man in the party’s national leadership, submitted a parliamentary question to the European Commission to find out if the Community Executive considered an “intervention in the market” that contravened the EU rules. He also questioned the Commission about possible sanctions against Spain.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine skyrocketed the cost of energy across Europe, and Spain was no exception. The Government proposed an “Iberian exception” to Europe that would allow Spain and Portugal to put a cap on the price of gas, a source of secondary energy generation in both countries due to the lack of gas connections between the Iberian Peninsula and Europe, but whose price wholesaler directly influenced that of both countries.
The cap on gas has been harshly criticized by the PP, already led by Feijóo. Before and after implantation. “It hasn’t worked,” the opposition leader said in mid-June, just a week after the system went live. His party, in fact, abstained in Congress, along with Vox. The right wing branded the plan a “failure” before it was launched, but in August, with already consolidated data, it was found that the average price of electricity fell in Spain compared to what other countries pay, such as France .
However, the price of electricity remains at a maximum. More in Europe than in Spain. However, from the PP ensure that Spanish consumers “subsidize” France. In total, according to the calculations of Genoa, the amount already amounts to 400 million euros. Asked by elDiario.es, from the PP they have not wanted to explain where the data comes from.
Criticism of the shock measures proposed by the Government in the electricity market were added to those of energy saving validated last week by the Executive. Some restrictions harshly criticized by the PP, with Isabel Díaz Ayuso leading the way to a Feijóo that she had flirted with the idea of turning off night public lighting a few days earlier. But, again, Von der Leyen defended the management of the coalition government. The president of the Commission is one of the main leaders of the European PP and in the past she has scuttled the party’s attempts in Spain to question the management of the funds, among other issues.
The number two of the PP, Cuca Gamarra, said then that what Von der Leyen was doing were personal “assessments”. Now, after the President of the Commission has left heads of State and Government with little suspicion of interventionists, like the austrianclamoring for market regulation in the face of the harsh autumn and winter that is coming, the PP has chosen not to criticize its party colleague, but to take on a plan that they have reneged on not only now, but also historically and ideologically.
The deputy economic counselor of the PP, Juan Bravo, stated this Tuesday in an interview that his party had already requested the intervention of the electricity market “months ago”, despite the fact that in the extensive economic plan that he drafted in April and that Feijóo sent to Pedro Sánchez only he proposed lowering taxes and investing in nuclear energy as solutions to influence the price of electricity bills. Not a word about a supposed intervention of the market that, in fact, is anathema in the neoliberal economic guidelines of the PP.
On the situation of the energy market, the savings plan and its “economic and social” consequences, Sánchez and Feijóo, as well as the rest of the groups, will debate next Tuesday in the Senate. On Friday, September 9, the EU will meet urgently to address the intervention of the electricity market. In the medium term, the interconnection of Spain with Europe (via France and/or Italy) is also on the table, after France has opened up to the Spanish plan, which is backed by Germany. An inauspicious scenario for an opposition that, despite the change in leadership, remains in the “not to everything”.