"Let's go late." "We can't wait another day." Pedro Sánchez warns the EU that urgent and forceful measures need to be taken at the next European Council to deal with the escalation in energy prices at a time when the street is heating up in Spain with protests. However, the president insists that the answer must be common to the EU and that there cannot be 27 “different ones” given the pressure for the Government to take measures before March 24 and 25, when that summit will be held. Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece have staged a common front during a meeting of the presidents in Rome to demand urgent and effective measures at the community level.
Sánchez sees "insufficient" the "fiscal effort" to lower prices if the energy market is not reformed
“All the governments present here, the 27 of us, have done our part to mitigate the consequences of this runaway price”, Sánchez said in the joint appearance in Rome in the face of political and social pressure for the Government to adopt measures immediately. The president maintains that there are already elements underway, such as the reduction of VAT on electricity or the suspension of the electricity production tax, which amounts to a 60% tax reduction on electricity and a total of 4,000 million euros that can be reach 12,000 if it lasts for a year since they were activated; but the Russian invasion of the Ukraine forces to take measures that go further. That is the Executive's commitment, which include tax cuts in war response plan, but the discrepancy is in the moment in which to act. Sánchez wants to wait for the European Council to see what measures are approved at the European level and, from there, act at the national level.
"If this is a European problem, we have to give it a European response, there cannot be 27 different responses," Sánchez told journalists at the end of the statement with his counterparts Mario Draghi, António Costa and Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who spoke by videoconference at the be isolated by coronavirus. “We will approve this national plan on a national scale that has to be aligned with what is decided on the 24th and 25th in Brussels”, he has expressed. That plan, he pointed out, will have "three axes" in order to "cushion the consequences" at the national level, but also "protect the most vulnerable sectors" and "distribute the burden of the consequences of the war in a more equitable”.
The president has not wanted to enter into the discrepancies that exist within the coalition on the response that should be given to the crisis that leaves the war and, specifically, to the United We Can proposal to cut the benefits of electricity companies. “We have many proposals on the table”, Sánchez has limited himself to saying, who has recalled his vocation for the war response plan to go ahead with the “unanimous” support of Congress and also with the consensus of social agents and autonomous communities.
The socialist insists for now on the need to act at the “source” of energy market failures decoupling gas from the price of electricity and also from Portugal's proposal, seconded by Spain, of limit the price of electricity to 180 euros/MWh. However, in the socialist wing of the Executive they do not see the proposal to raise taxes on electricity companies. "There are many ways to limit benefits, capping prices and you limit them," explain government sources.
Sánchez calls for the “calm” of a “minority” that acts with violence
Asked about the mobilizations that are taking place in Spain and the demonstrations called for this weekend -one by Vox and another by the primary sector-, Sánchez has assured that "the Government is in charge" of the situation and has appealed to the “responsibility” of the “violent minority” in the transport sector during the strike that began on Monday and that is putting some supplies at risk.
"I call for the calm of this minority, to be able to express themselves freely, with respect, but not to fall into a dynamic of violence that contravenes coexistence at such a difficult time", said Sánchez, who has assured that the Government has the obligation to maintain public order "in the face of certain behaviors, which fortunately are minority, but which are acting in a vandalistic way when not violent".
Sánchez has avoided placing the carriers on the extreme right, as all the ministers who have spoken on the matter have done. The Minister of Finance, María Jesús Montero, has assured that it is not a “stoppage” but a “boycott” that, in her opinion, “encourages the extreme right to play into the hands of Putin's villain. “You cannot use the lack of supplies to blackmail the government”, she has expressed. The Minister of Transport, Raquel Sánchez, He refused to sit down with "a group of radicals that uses violence".
The president, on the other hand, has maintained a more conciliatory tone and has shown "empathy" towards the sectors that are suffering the consequences of the war. “We have been in constant dialogue since last year, he would say almost daily, with the main associations in the transport sector. That dialogue is open”, he said in reference to the National Transport Committee, which is the official interlocutor of the sector, with which the president has recalled that they reached an agreement in December to review prices based on the evolution of those of hydrocarbons.