Germany, Spain Aim to Push France into Building the Pyrenean Gas Pipeline

German Chancellor Scholz and Spanish Prime Minister Sanchez pledged to strengthen their alliance to build the Pyrenean gas pipeline despite opposition from mutual neighbor France. The two leaders held their countries’ first inter-government meeting in nine years in Spain. The meeting resulted in a joint action plan, which underlines closer cooperation, especially on energy and security issues.

In a joint press conference, two leaders played down their differences on how to approach Europe’s energy crisis in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The summit came at a time when the bloc’s traditional German-French alliance appears to start cracking and Italy has elected its most right wing government since World War II.

The action plan, published earlier on Wednesday, said the countries would “continue to lobby for a higher interconnection capacity of the Iberian Peninsula in order to enhance its contribution to the security of supply to the whole of EU”.

“The construction of a sufficiently big hydrogen-ready gas pipeline across the Pyrenees to be operative by 2025 is of paramount importance in order to achieve a truly robust internal energy market within the EU, accelerate the green transition and reinforce EU’s strategic autonomy.” the plan said.

Scholz said during the press conference that he does not have the impression France had completely ruled out the pipeline.

Spain and Germany also agreed to strengthen cooperation on defense although the two leaders said they did not discuss the issue of a German-led European missile defense shield as it had not been on the agenda.

Scholz said Germany wants to build the shield with four layers, drawing on its €100 billion special fund for the military, announced by the German government earlier this year.

Scholz also defended his €200 billion plan to fight soaring energy prices. The plan has been met with criticism from some EU members who have accused Germany of using economic power that are not available to bloc’s other members. They argue that it could erode competitiveness of other members.

While Sanchez did not directly criticize Germany over its plan, he pointed to the importance of maintaining a level playing field “so that we do not come out of this crisis with greater economic differences between countries.”

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