A uniform European energy policy gets stuck in palaver rounds. Another reason is that the Scholz-Macron political tandem is not working. Instead of “gathering together” only the tussle succeeds.

Nothing happened again with the unified European energy union, for the umpteenth time. It’s true, the meeting of the responsible EU ministers in Luxembourg on Tuesday was about nothing less than the most far-reaching interventions in the gas and electricity markets to date. But if the EU continues in this style, winter may come sooner than a common line against the energy crisis.

An EU summit last week was only able to agree on vague and highly interpretable resolutions and further test orders and passed the buck to the responsible ministers. Of the assertion by the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that they had “pushed together”, only the fact of the fight was correct.

In fact, “together” was not finally achieved in the Luxembourg ministerial round, despite all the calls for European energy solidarity. While the EU is mired in endless deliberations, at least the market is kind to it at the moment. Gas prices are on the way down again. By 40 percent since August. One of the reasons for this is that gas storage facilities in Europe are now well stocked. The EU average fill level is a good 93 percent – ​​probably enough for this winter.

After his talks in Luxembourg, Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) emphasized the fact that the gas price had fallen again on the same day as particularly noteworthy. The EU Commission should still provide draft resolutions for the common energy policy. It is undisputed that you have to buy and save gas together; the discussion about “how binding and how deep” goes on. On November 24, the ministers are to make a new attempt at agreement on an overall package, just under a month before the start of winter.

In order to be prepared for future market turbulence, the majority of EU member states still favor a price cap for gas. It is highly controversial among experts. Such an intervention would only lead to “less trading on the markets,” warned the CDU MEP Christian Ehler at a discussion event of the Bavarian state representation in Brussels, while the ministers were still debating. The fear of a gas shortage due to a price cap is also driving the federal government.

Energy has never been as expensive as it is now. But instead of panicking, you should calmly check potential savings at home. As our guide shows, there are many of them.

A “dynamic” price cap or “price corridor” was introduced into the deliberations as a compromise model, which is not immovably fixed but reacts to the market situation. According to Ehler, the delicate diplomatic task is to decide something “that sounds like a gas price cap”, but in Berlin’s judgment it isn’t one at all.

Anyone who has observed the actions of Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Brussels so far will hardly accuse him of having too great a diplomatic instinct. Germany’s nuclear phase-out ghost trip, boasting of national assets for a “double boom” to compensate for skyrocketing energy prices and price-driving gas purchases on its own have made the Federal Republic a problem in the eyes of many EU partners.

This also applies to the traditionally close ally France. At the most recent EU summit, its President Emmanuel Macron warned the Chancellor with unusual frankness against further isolating himself. The fact that the chemistry between Scholz and Macron is not right can no longer be denied. It was less than a month ago that the Chancellor received the President for a dinner at the Chancellery on the Day of German Unity – apparently without taking the opportunity for a clarifying discussion. Otherwise the two statesmen would not have to sit down again in Paris to discuss relationship problems.

The differences, which are greatest in energy and armaments policy, have meanwhile deepened so much that both sides no longer saw any point in the bilateral government consultations that were actually planned and postponed them until January. Scholz apparently did nothing, little or the wrong thing to avert this unique event in Franco-German relations.

Macron is not only disappointed by the German energy policy, but had also hoped that the chancellor’s 100 billion initiative to improve the equipment of the Bundeswehr would result in orders for the French armaments industry. But Scholz seems to want to stock up mainly on American and Israeli military technology.

Macron, in turn, duped the chancellor, who had advocated a new gas pipeline from Spain through France. However, the French President surprisingly agreed with the Iberians on a pipeline through the Mediterranean Sea between Barcelona and Marseille, through which gas is to be pumped initially, and then hydrogen on a permanent basis.

For some time now, French and German press commentaries have been talking about the estrangement of the two leaders in Paris and Berlin, whose fruitful cooperation is generally considered a prerequisite for the EU’s ability to act. “Macron and Scholz must now finally come to terms and find a way together,” demanded the chairman of the conservative EPP group in the European Parliament, Manfred Weber, on the “WELT” television channel. “A lot, a lot of porcelain has already been smashed”.

Scholz insists that his collaboration with the French is “very intensive”. However, one can also argue intensely. After the ministerial meeting in Luxembourg, Habeck decided that one should not only claim to work well together, but also prove it. However, this was not a comment on the Chancellor’s statement, but referred to Germany’s efforts to start talks with Paris about being connected to the new pipeline between Spain and France.

In an interview with the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”, France’s Minister of Finance and Economics, Bruno Le Maire, had already pointed out that there was no alternative to the Franco-German alliance, “because we make up almost 40 percent of Europe’s gross domestic product and we have very deep historical ties are connected to each other”.

To be on the safe side, President Macron sounded out in a personal conversation with the new Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni immediately after she took office, which common interests might be found with the right-wing populist in Rome. He remarked: “The relations between France and Italy are more important than the people.” That should also apply to the relationship between Paris and Berlin, one would think.

Gas consumption by German companies has fallen drastically – on the one hand because production is being shut down. But Germany’s economy is also discovering clever ways of using less energy. In the corporations, it’s time for inventors.

The energy companies Uniper and Eon are planning drastic measures to save energy in the coming winter. To do this, entire parts of the building will be shut down and thousands of employees will be relocated. The goal: around 20-25 percent savings in energy consumption.

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