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EU Heads of State ponder how to get out of the mess they made

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France is not as dependent on Russian gas as Germany or Italy. But, the heads of the three major French energy companies are calling on the government, consumers, and businesses to reduce gas consumption for fear that there will not be enough gas next winter.

In 2020, Russian gas accounted for 17 percent of gas imports into France, compared with 65 percent in Germany and 43 percent in Italy. In addition, the share of gas in France’s electricity production is only 7 percent, thanks to the massive use of nuclear power plants (56 of the 106 nuclear power plants in the EU are in France), which provide about 70 percent of electricity production.

After a few years of hesitation at the beginning of his first term, following a moratorium on new nuclear power plants, President Macron has decided that it is necessary to invest again in that sector and build new reactors.

In Germany, gas accounts for more than 15 percent of electricity production, due to Angela Merkel’s disastrous 2011 decision to phase out nuclear power and the gradual abandonment of coal, of which Germany remains the largest European user.

To the French electorate, all is absurd and befuddling. They were promised a return on their taxes invested in nuclear power in the form of cheap and stable electricity prices. This is called ‘childlike faith in government.’

Since June 15, Russian gas deliveries from Germany to France have been interrupted. As early as the beginning of March, Engie CEO Catherine MacGregor warned that it would be difficult to fill storage tanks for the winter if Europe were to no longer receive Russian gas.

‘The real issue would be filling storage capacities in the spring and summer, in preparation for the winter of 2022-2023,’ she stressed at the time, adding: ‘In fact, we would then be entering a new world for energy, driven by an unprecedented physical and price shock that would likely transform the energy landscape for good.’

‘The levers in our hand are limited in scope. They will not be sufficient to replace all the gas that comes from Russia today,’ she said, adding that ‘it is not unimaginable that the government will put in place measures to limit demand.’

But as the Polish government has banned the import of coal from Russia since May, coal prices have almost tripled in Poland compared to last year. An EU-wide ban on Russian coal will come into effect on August 1, with the bloc’s CO2 emission rights still weighing heavily on the cost of this source of energy. For this reason, experts predict that electricity prices could at least double in Poland next year as well even after this year’s sharp increase.

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MICHAEL WALSH journalist: ‘Any level-headed person would suggest one or two solutions to immediately end the self-made crisis: 1) do as two-thirds of the world has done and come to an understanding with Russia their neighbour. 2) Get rid of the incompetent rat pack presently in the pockets of Washington DC, the Pentagon and the Military Arms Complex. Either way, all of Europe’s problems are over.’

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