"I think that the Iberian Peninsula has been, shall we say, underused, if we think that we have been talking about the energy plan for more than a decade," argues Roberta Metsola.
The President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, believes that the energy capacities of the Iberian Peninsula have been “underused”, namely in terms of storage and transport, favouring investment in Iberian renewables against “unreliable partners” such as Russia.
“I think that the Iberian Peninsula has been, shall we say, underused, if we think that we have been talking about the energy plan for more than a decade,” argues Roberta Metsola.
In an interview with Lusa news agency in Brussels, a day before starting an official visit to Portugal between Thursday and Friday, the leader of the European assembly speaks of an underutilisation “not only because of the reserves and the storage that exists and the transport capacity, such as for LNG [liquefied natural gas], but also through physical connections to other European countries” due to the current lack of interconnections.
“Let’s be frank, we cannot rely on partners that are potentially as unreliable as we have been relying on for decades,” she adds, recalling the case of Russia, from which the European Union (EU) is dependent on fossil fuels, such as gas.
Recalling that Portugal and Spain have been “leaders in renewable energy”, Roberta Metsola defends a commitment to this type of cleaner energy sources.
“I have seen how Portugal brings solutions to the table […] for the use of more renewable energies, allowing a faster investment,” she notes.
About to start her official visit to the country, the president of the European assembly stresses that “a voice like Portugal around the table can bring an alternative energy perspective”.
In mid-August, the European Commission pledged that it would “support and encourage” Spain and France to press ahead with interconnections, particularly of gas through Portugal, to increase the interconnections between the Iberian Peninsula and the rest of the EU.
The position came after days earlier German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had come out in favour of a pipeline to transport gas from Portugal through Spain and France to the rest of Europe, to reduce current dependence on Russian gas at a time of war in Ukraine and energy crisis.
At the time, the EU executive told Lusa “support and encourage the Spanish and French authorities to accelerate the implementation of the three existing projects of common interest through the South West Europe High Level Group with the aim of increasing interconnection capacity between the Iberian Peninsula and France.”
“We also think that additional investments to connect LNG import terminals on the Iberian Peninsula and the EU network through hydrogen-ready infrastructure can further contribute to diversifying gas supply in the internal market and help exploit the long-term potential of renewable hydrogen,” she advanced.
Spain and Portugal have been asking the EU to speed up the increase of interconnections for gas transport between the Iberian Peninsula and other European countries, precisely because there are few interconnections with the rest of Europe.
Geopolitical tensions due to the war in Ukraine have affected the European energy market, as the EU imports 90% of the gas it consumes, with Russia accounting for around 45% of these imports, at varying levels between member states.
Roberta Metsola was elected in mid-January last year as president of the European Parliament for the second half of the current term, until the new assembly is formed after the European elections in 2024.