The EU Commission chief has called for the resumption of work on a new gas pipeline linking France and Spain as the bloc seeks to reduce dependence on Russian energy sources.
“Now all of Europe agrees that we must cut our dependency on Russian fossil fuels,” Ursula von der Leyen said on May 6 during an appearance in Barcelona with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.
“It is crucial for our climate goals and to end the Kremlin’s blackmail,” she added.
Europe has sought to reduce its reliance on energy sources from Russia following the Kremlin’s decision to invade Ukraine on February 24.
On May 4, the European Union proposed an embargo on Russian oil, although the plan has faced opposition from within the bloc, notably from Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic, based on the economic impact on their own economies.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has demanded that “unfriendly countries” pay for their gas in rubles. Poland and Bulgaria have refused to do so and their gas supplies were cut off late last month.
In her comments in Spain, von der Leyen cited a pact by EU members, called REPowerEU, which is designed to reinforce energy independence and reduce dependence on Russian gas supplies.
Spain has six liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals to take in imports, mainly from Algeria. However, there are only two low-capacity links to the gas network in France.
A project was launched in 2013 to link Portugal, Spain, and France, but opposition from environmental groups and financing issues halted the effort in 2019.
Von der Leyen said the project, known as Midcat, has renewed importance and should be restarted so that “together we can set ourselves free from Russian threats.”
The Spanish government favors resuming the pipeline project but has resisted contributing the needed $465 million because the project does not directly benefit Spain.
Sanchez has said that such efforts are “European projects. It is the EU that has to finance them. It cannot be Spain or Portugal. It has to be the EU.”