We can’t be held hostage by Putin’s energy blackmail: Spanish premier

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After meeting with EU leaders in France on Friday, Spain’s prime minister insisted that he will do everything in his power to change the European Union’s energy policy away from dependence on Russia.

“We cannot be held hostage by (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s energy blackmail,” said Pedro Sanchez.

Although no major decisions were made during the informal leaders’ summit in Versailles – not on energy policy, sanctions or defense – Sanchez said he will spend the next two weeks meeting with other leaders to find unity around the question of energy.

For months, Spain has been advocating new ways to set the price of energy in the EU so it is less vulnerable to price fluctuations, which have only increased since Russia attacked Ukraine.

“We need to cut this contagion effect of gas prices on electricity,” he insisted. “We need decisions because this is an emergency situation.”

Several Spanish industrial companies have already halted production as electricity prices have soared.

Sanchez said the EU also needs to diversify its energy sources away from Russia and increase connectivity through pipelines.

Spain and Portugal are mainly disconnected from the rest of the EU in terms of energy, but Sanchez said both countries are willing to construct pipelines to France if they are paid for with EU funds and can also transport hydrogen.

During the meeting, Sanchez said the EU leaders also designed a new package of sanctions “on Putin’s regime” though he gave no further details.

Likewise, he said Spain broadly supports a move towards a common EU defense and foreign policy.

On March 24 – one month since Russia launched its war in Ukraine – EU leaders are set to gather again in Brussels for a formal summit where key decisions could be made on these matters.

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