The Minister of Industry meets tomorrow with the sector to analyze what saving options can be adopted to reduce costs and the volume of consumption
Inflation already permeates all areas of the economy and Minister Reyes Maroto, in an interview after meeting with the digital industry at the Ametic forum in Santander, highlights that the Government has taken many measures to alleviate the rise in prices, but that now it is Europe that must make decisions that help countries to gradually reduce the CPI.
–Inflation remains at record levels. What else can the government do?
-The expectation that we have is that it has peaked and that from now on the trend will be containment. We have to see how the measures taken at European level impact. I am not saying that we have exhausted the margin that we had in Spain, but it is true that we have already activated many of the instruments, including the reduction of VAT from 21% to 5%, which represents a lot of resources. The great uncertainty here is how long the war will last and we do not have that answer. The role that Europe plays is very important because now we are all looking at Europe because the margin that the countries have is getting smaller and smaller.
–Energy accounts for 50% of the costs for many industries, how can you support this impacted sector?
–On Monday (tomorrow) we are going to have a meeting to coordinate the contingency plan. We have to see if the aid up to now is sufficient and that is what we will debate, if we have to continue subsidizing and up to how much. But clearly here the path of energy efficiency is the urgent one. The sensitivity of the Government is absolute, we have to defend our industry. We always compared ourselves to France and Germany, but the scenario has totally changed. But it is true that we lose competitiveness with other markets that do not suffer as much from the problem of rising energy prices. Measures that have brought some controversy such as the thermostat at 27 degrees or the turning off of shop windows have managed to reduce electricity consumption by more than 9%. Now we have the capacity to influence Europe with an instrument that was necessary, such as the gas cap.
–Are renewables a resource that can be used to stop depending on gas?
-Since we came to the Government we have called two auctions of renewables. Last December the price was set at 30 euros/MWh and the previous one at 24. In December, the setting of the price at 30 surprised us because the sector was already very stressed and, on the other hand, the renewables market continued with a relatively cheap price.
- But in what term could suppose a reduction of the invoice?
–The National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan sets a horizon for 2030 for the decarbonisation of the energy sector with renewable energies. Now we have increased resources by three with European funds, so we have to have the capacity to advance this transition and in a short time we can see that the electricity market responds more to the mix we have than to an electricity market that is now governed for a European policy.
–What is complicating the start-up of the PERTE of the electric car?
–It is a project that has an investment of 4,300 million in which we have launched more than 90% of the authorized investments. That is to say, we have already removed the lines, not only in the industrial part. There has been a lot of noise with the provisional resolution and it is an administrative procedure. I ask for a little patience. In the case of Ford, which has decided to leave, it was negative news for the ministry but for them the project has changed and they could not meet the requirements, but they guarantee the investment in Valencia.
-Tourism has done very well in summer, but the sector warns of a very difficult autumn.
-The valuation is very positive. Month by month we have been improving the outlook and getting closer to the pre-pandemic data. Looking ahead to autumn, we have seen this summer as even with the uncertainty of war and inflation, people have continued to travel. Right now and with all caution, in September we still see a very good pace in terms of reservations and air capacity with more than 9.6 million scheduled seats.
–Do you think the gas pipeline is the best solution? What construction term do you propose?
-We could make the investments now, but if they are going to stay in Spanish territory it will not serve to achieve the objective. Yes or yes, we need France's commitment and once we have it, we can start. We have to see how we are going to finance it because we have already committed European funds, but there is a window of opportunity with the loans. I believe that we are indeed going to reach a European financing mechanism. The European Investment Bank comes to mind as an instrument to be able to finance these European projects. Surely Europe will find the instrument so that a project that is European, this one is European, can be financed and of course we will speed it up. Vice President Ribera calculated in eight or nine months the time to be able to have it ready in the part that corresponds to us.
–The bottlenecks in the supply chains are causing some factories to stop production.
–We are facilitating adjustment for companies. The solution is not short term, it is medium term and it is called industrial autonomy. They are called PERTE, betting on what is produced in other places, bringing it to Europe and bringing it to Spain, which is why we are making the investment effort. Some textile companies have already told me that logistics costs are so high that they have reduced costs by bringing part of the production to Spain. We now have an opportunity for the entire relocation of the Spanish industry, textiles is an example, we must reposition it, make it competitive and attractive. Maintaining a Spain brand that is a very reputable brand in the world. Why not produce directly in Spain?