The European Commission admits technical complexity and maintains the delay of almost a month in its definitive endorsement of the Iberian exceptionality
The European Commission continues to study in detail the decrees that Spain and Portugal sent to Brussels almost a month ago to authorize the limit on the price of gas in the wholesale market that will allow the rise in electricity in both countries to be cushioned. But the Iberian exceptionality – as the measure authorized by the European Council at the end of March is called – is stuck in the community offices. There is no sign that anticipates that it will be in the next few days when the EU endorses this initiative.
Although the 'yes' could come at any time, the analysis of the decrees – also closely watched by the rest of the European partners, especially those from Central and Eastern Europe, with Germany in the lead – has become “complicated” with the passing of days, according to various sources in the energy market. Brussels wants a similar regulatory treatment on both sides of the border of the Peninsula. And that fit becomes difficult with two completely different legal texts (the Spanish decree has more than 60 pages and the Portuguese less than 10), as well as two heterogeneous systems.
Balancing an authorization that serves both countries is the challenge facing the Commission. European sources assured a month ago that the European Commission, in principle, could adopt separate decisions regarding the plans presented by Spain and Portugal. For several weeks there has been talk of "work at the technical level" and "polishing technical details" for approval. But the Community Executive does not give any estimate of when it could give the green light to the Iberian exception.
The delays and the wait for the community response accumulate while the Government insists on the need to have a guarantee as soon as possible without which the limitation of gas in the daily market cannot be implemented. The President of the Government indicated last week, during the last European summit, the need to “recognize the work that the Ministry of Ecological Transition is doing” for the “intense work that it is carrying out”. “I hope that the final agreement will be very soon,” said Sánchez, for whom this measure is “essential” for the economy of families and companies.
The mechanism is complex because it is the first time that the possibility of two countries not being governed by the same rules as the rest of the partners in the electricity market has been established. The proposal set an initial maximum gas price of 40 euros/MWh to later move progressively to a ceiling of 50 euros/MWh; on average, over the next year, just over 48 euros/MWh. Gas was trading yesterday at around 83 euros/MWh on the Dutch market, where this raw material sets its benchmark.
As the days go by, consumers stop perceiving the possible effect of the gas cap. When Brussels authorizes the limit on the wholesale price of gas, households covered by the regulated rate (about 10 million points throughout Spain, 38% of the total) will not begin to receive it on their bills until, at least, a full month once the cap is authorized.
From the Ministry of Ecological Transition they clarify that the practical effect “depends on the closing of the billing period of the consumers who will benefit”. Therefore, at least 30 days will be necessary to verify it on the receipt. Of the savings that were initially estimated at around 30% on the electricity bill, the Government is beginning to talk that the reduction that is going to be noticed will be 15%. The vice president herself, Teresa Ribera, admitted that these savings "may not be of the dimensions that we would have liked."
Meanwhile, the Executive does not believe that in the coming months there may be a "lack of supply" of gas despite the threat of a rise in prices of gas from this country. This is indicated in a parliamentary response, collected by EP, in connection with relations with a "reliable partner" such as Algeria.