Germany and the Czech Republic pledge solidarity in the event of a gas shortage
The governments of Berlin and Prague have approved a joint declaration which provides for solidarity measures between the two countries in the event of a gas shortage. The Czech Republic has been calling for such an agreement for a long time.
Germany, the largest importer of Russian gas from the EU, is also a key country for gas transit. As a gas shortage approaches next winter, its neighbors fear a reduction in exports. Solidarity treaties with Berlin are considered essential by its neighbors to ensure the continued flow of gas.
“European solidarity is more important than ever in the current energy crisis. This also includes closer coordination between direct neighbours”Robert Habeck, German Minister of Economics and Climate Action, explained on Monday (July 11).
Flows through Nord Stream 1 ceased entirely on Monday due to the start of a ten-day maintenance period. In the past, a temporary reduction in flows was compensated by a redirection through Ukraine and Poland. However, flows through Ukraine have also decreased, and flows through Poland ceased several weeks ago.
Analysts are already noting that little gas will come from Russia in July. “July will be a month of very low natural gas flow for Gazprom, even if Nord Stream 1 is back in service in ten days”has tweeted Tom Marzec-Manser, gas analyst at ICIS.
“Europe will not be divided by Russia’s actions”, said Mr. Habeck. And yet — few interests are as powerful as those of German industry, which has been pushing for months to continue to receive gas in an emergency.
The president of the chemical industry association VCI, Christian Kullmann, has already called for securing the supply of industrial gas in order to guarantee that jobs, and therefore household incomes, are maintained.
Solidarity, a “key principle”
Germany’s neighboring countries fear, unsurprisingly, that Berlin will prioritize its industrial interests over the protection of its neighbours.
Indeed, Germany has placed Gazprom Germania under government control, a historic first, in an effort to protect its industry from the dissolution of valuable long-term gas contracts.
Denmark and Austria already have solidarity agreements in place, which define the procedures to be followed in the event of a gas shortage. The Czech Republic hopes to join them.
“It is clear that cooperation with Germany, through which almost all the gas destined for us passes, will be essential for us in this direction”said Jozef Síkela, Czech Minister of Industry and Trade.
According to the joint agreement signed by Berlin and Prague, the countries are “well aware that solidarity will be a key principle to follow in the event of a gas supply shortage”.
“Therefore, we will finalize the agreement on solidarity measures aimed at preserving the security of gas supply between our countries before the start of the next winter season”continues the press release.
Mr Síkela also added that “the best response to Russia’s weaponization of energy is EU unity and solidarity which will ensure that even the most vulnerable countries have enough gas in the event of a supply cut Russians »
At the moment, the Czech Republic’s gas reserves are 75% full. In addition, the government has leased liquefied natural gas import capacity from the Netherlands, representing one third of the Czech Republic’s annual consumption.
These measures will be complemented by an energy saving campaign for households and by mandatory energy saving for industry, according to the Czech minister.
Switzerland, another direct neighbor dependent on gas flows passing through Germany, is still working on an agreement with Berlin.
[Aneta Zachova a contribué à la rédaction de cet article]
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