Divided in Luxembourg as well as in Brussels. Between the various Member States and even in the Commission. The energy dossier continues to split Europe and, to the tensions on the price cap on gas and on the 200 billion euro shield announced by Berlin, a new point of friction is added: the deployment of an ad hoc fund, on the model Sureto cope with the boom in energy prices.
It is the first time that the idea comes out clearly in the European tables. To quote you, in a letter, are the commissioners Paolo Gentiloni and Thierry Breton while at the Ecofin meeting, the French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire put it on the table. Italy and France, among others, like the new fund for the energy crisis. But at the moment it appears very far away: Palazzo Berlaymont is skeptical, Germany and the Netherlands have already raised a wall. The meeting of finance ministers in Luxembourg ended as it began: with a Europe that on the energy front is struggling to find the key to the problem.
There was indeed a novelty: theintended to add a new chapter to the National Recovery and Resilience Plan to obtain RePowerUe funds. An ad hoc voice, entirely focused on investments for the energy autonomy of the EU.
Repower hinges on 200 billion of residual loans from the EU Next Generation (Italy has already asked for the entire quota due to it) and on 20 billion in subsidies. The latter, according to the Commission’s initial scheme, would have been collected from the auctioning of the Ets system allowances. But here the Ecofin has made a change by opting for a combination of sources: the Innovation Fund for 75% and the advance of Ets shares for 25%.
Italy may have a further path to follow: finance Repower’s measures using Cohesion funds. “We will work on further temporary flexibilities regarding the remaining funds in the 2014-2020 funding period,” announced Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis. “Let’s use them for targeted initiatives to support SMEs and vulnerable families”, explained EU Commissioner for Cohesion Elisa Ferreira.
For Italy, the treasury – which also includes the share of the React Eu program – is around 40 billion. But if Raffaele Fitto, the weaver of Fdi relations in the EU, welcomed the idea, among local authorities, especially in the South, the initiative could meet with resistance. The idea of using Cohesion Funds: using existing funds for the energy crisis. It is a point that brings together the hawks of the North and part of the EU executive and which counteracts the possible deployment of a Sure 2 device (the first was created in the Covid crisis against unemployment).
“Countries are divided on the idea,” admitted the Czech EU presidency. L’Holland, for example, does not consider the device necessary. “We have billions and billions available, let’s free them”, suggested Finance Minister Sigrid Kaag. His German counterpart, Christian Lindner, pronounced no to new instruments “in this inflation scenario”, reiterating that the German shield is “targeted and thought for three years”. The criticisms of Germany do not stop. Gentiloni and Breton warn not to ‘alter the internal market’. And the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz: “For some time now, some countries have been doing what we have set out to do for the next few years”.
The spokesman of the Commission, Eric Mamer, also replied to Gentiloni, according to whom Sure 2 would be “a realistic model against fragmentation”. “The editorials (by Gentiloni and Breton, ed) are personal initiatives of the competent commissioners and do not bind the Commission”, he explained, recalling however Ursula von der Leyen’s commitment to common and non-distorting market solutions. A meeting of commissioners on Wednesday could provide a very first response: a letter to take to the leaders’ summit in the Czech Republic on Friday. A basis for discussion between those who want the gas price cap and the Sure 2 fund and those who do not want to upset the status quo. And Europe will be called to mediation between the walls of Prague Castle, before it is too late.
A European fund of 100 billion euros with which in 2020 the Commission provided for the disbursement of loans on favorable terms to Member States forced to mobilize resources to preserve jobs at risk due to the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Now it could change (ANSA)