Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Energy

Germany lashes back at energy plan critics, pointing to French subsidies

BERLIN — The German government is punching back against criticism from France and its EU commissioner over Berlin’s €200 billion gas price relief scheme, arguing that Paris is rolling out energy support measures of a similar scale.

The giant German scheme, which comes on top of an additional €95 billion of energy price support measures that Berlin announced in recent months, has triggered both strong censure from Italy and barely veiled warnings from French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire, who said Germany is in danger of creating an unfair advantage for its industry over poorer EU countries that can’t afford such support measures.

French EU Commissioner Thierry Breton was forthright in his opprobrium and cried foul about Berlin’s behavior in an op-ed he penned with his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni, sparking a Franco-Italian revolt in Brussels.

Berlin has reacted with annoyance to the condemnation — particularly since it is coming from Breton, who appeared to speak more in his function as a French envoy than a politically neutral European Commission representative. At a press conference on Tuesday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz argued that Breton should take a closer look at the energy support measures Paris is taking.

“Commissioner Breton certainly looks around, even where he comes from, and therefore knows that the measures we are taking are not singular but are also being taken elsewhere, and with good reason, by the way,” Scholz said at a press conference in Berlin.

Sven Giegold, a state secretary at the Green-led German economy ministry, also defended Berlin’s spending, arguing others like France were introducing price caps. “We have not even defined how the famous €200 billion package will be used. But, German industry keeps complaining to us that their offers are undercut by European competitors, which are profiting from energy price caps,” he said.

France has said it won’t allow gas prices to rise for households beyond 15 percent in 2023.

Scholz said Tuesday that “perhaps not everybody realized immediately” that the €200 billion scheme was not just for this year, but for 2023 and 2024 as well, noting that Germany had been forced to bail out large energy companies like Uniper. 

A French economy ministry official said Monday that it was too early to assess the German plan, but noted that it was similar to what France has been doing in recent months.

“Several things there are similar to things we’ve done, including [energy] price cap for households,” the official said, adding: “It is very important that everyone can take measures to protect their populations and businesses, of course, but this be done in a coordinated manner so that those who have the most fiscal space cannot support more and thus generate the risk of fragmentation of the eurozone.”

Giorgio Leali in Paris contributed reporting.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You May Also Like

Europe

BERLIN — Germany is on edge. Early Wednesday, thousands of balaclava-clad German police officers fanned out across the country, arresting 25 people and seizing...

Energy

Press play to listen to this article Voiced by artificial intelligence. BERLIN — A historic coalition set out ambitious goals for reforming Germany. Then...

Europe

Ukrainian forces were the “first” to target civilian infrastructure, a swaying Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed Thursday while drinking sparkling wine, a video of...

Europe

Belgium’s highest court on Thursday suspended a controversial treaty on prisoner exchanges which could allow an Iranian diplomat convicted of terrorism in Belgium to...

Industrial Policy

Press play to listen to this article Voiced by artificial intelligence. About 28 million people across Europe are doing platform work. It’s easy to...

Energy

This article is part of POLITICO’s Global Policy Lab: Living Cities, a collaborative journalism project exploring the future of cities. Chapter 3 of the project...

Europe

Hungary is yet again trying to force the EU to compromise on its values.  The Czech EU presidency has written to ambassadors from all...

Europe

BERLIN — Ammunition running low, fighter jet purchases possibly delayed, defense spending promises missed. Germany’s grand ambitions to become Europe’s military power are off...