The European Commission will Negotiate on Bulgaria’s behalf with Gazprom for Russian GasEnergy | March 26, 2022, Saturday // 08:26| views
The European Commission will negotiate with Gazprom on behalf of EU member states to buy Russian gas.
This agreement was reached at the end of the extraordinary European Council in Brussels, Prime Minister Kiril Petkov told reporters.
Negotiations will be conducted on behalf of those countries that wish. Bulgaria is among them, Petkov said.
The commission is yet to analyze the idea of a ceiling on gas prices, Petkov added.
“This is completely different than a small Bulgaria with low consumption going to negotiate with a giant like Gazprom,” Petkov said.
According to him, the fact that we will be able to negotiate prices together completely changes the game with who has how much market power in these negotiations.
“Now we say that we want better conditions, lower prices. This is especially important for Bulgaria, because, as we know, the contract with Gazprom expires this year,” said the Prime Minister.
“In one case, we are a very small consumer compared to the whole of Europe. We are going to negotiations, you have a giant on the other side, which is currently negative and aggressive. It would be much, much harder for Bulgaria to negotiate and reach successful conditions. Now that 75 percent of Russia's gas is coming to the EU, they have nowhere to go. We will have to negotiate on an equal footing. This was a huge victory for the Bulgarian interest,” Petkov said.
The other important point is that the price of gas determines that of electricity on the European market, which is connected to Bulgaria. By lowering the price of gas in good negotiations, the price of electricity falls and thus reduces inflation.
Two groups of countries have emerged at the European Council. According to Petkov, some of them wanted a fixed price for gas so that there would be a clear ceiling. Although the Prime Minister did not mention the names of Spain and Portugal, it is known that this group is headed by the two countries of the Iberian Peninsula. Bulgaria has joined the same group.
Other countries were worried about the extent to which they could enter into such relations, especially because of long-term contracts at very good prices. This is completely understandable, Petkov pointed out. Therefore, the part with the ceiling has been transferred to the Commission.
Bulgaria has achieved another victory at the European Council, the Prime Minister added. It has been decided to fill the EU's gas storage facilities. But there will also be a solidarity support mechanism.
“Not all countries have storage facilities. Those who don't have it can't just use the repositories of those who have it for free. This allows countries with repositories such as Bulgaria to have a solidarity compensation mechanism, i.e. other countries to help and invest in filling,” said Kiril Petkov.
In the beginning, it was only about the largest repositories. Then the “biggest” ones were replaced by the “significant ones”, so our country also fell within the scope.
“I really don't understand when you don't know English, when there are so many suggestions that are constantly flying, and in written English, how did he manage,” Petkov said, apparently referring to his predecessor Boyko Borissov.
“Kiril, I will visit you in two weeks”
Petkov met yesterday with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and took a selfie with her, which he shared on Facebook. And she boasted that she would soon come to Bulgaria to sign the National Plan for Reconstruction and Sustainability.
“She called me and shouted: ‘Kiril, we are ready with the technical part of the plan. In the next few days I will look in my calendar. I guess in two weeks I will come to visit you and sign,’” said the Prime Minister after the summit.
In reality, however, the signature is only the first of a total of 4 steps for final approval of the plan. Following is a recommendation from the EC, a decision of the Permanent Representatives (COREPER II) and the Ministers of Economy and Finance (ECOFIN). However, Petkov assured that the real negotiation is over today.
According to him, many important things have been changed in the latest version of the plan. Instead of a gas plant that will make us even more dependent on Russian gas, we will have a battery plant. The obligatory closure of the Marishki Basin mine is not included.
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