Given the rise in the cost of energy and fuel, everyone has to pitch in. Including energy companies, which still have “room” for maneuver to absorb part of the price increase and thus contribute to the “effort” that citizens and the Government are already making. That is the message that the Minister for Ecological Transition and Third Vice President of the Spanish Government, Teresa Ribera, launched this Thursday from Paris, a few hours before the vital negotiation with the Twenty-seven begins in Brussels to try to lower the bill for the light and a few days, too, before the Government of Pedro Sánchez presents —next Tuesday— a large package of measures to respond to the escalation of prices.
“In such a complicated situation, there cannot be only one effort from the consumer, from the taxpayer. There must also be an effort on the part of those companies that are in a position to do so”, Ribera told journalists on the margins of the ministerial summit of the International Energy Agency (IEA) that concludes this Thursday in the French capital. In the case of the oil companies, Ribera has stressed that he has already transferred to the sector the demand that they analyze “where each of them can contribute, reducing their margin” of profits to be “up to” the effort they make and the consumers.
“I think they have room to do it, they understand perfectly that the situation is complicated for everyone,” the minister stressed. “Of course, the first effort must be made by the public budget, but it cannot be based solely on a unilateral effort, there must also be an effort to reduce profit margins by the sector.”
The message is also addressed to power companies. “To the extent appropriate, they must make an effort,” she said. To do this, she has pointed out two ways. On the one hand, the electricity companies could “expand” their contributions to cover the social bond for vulnerable consumers. On the other hand, Ribera has appealed to “maintain rates at levels prior to the prices we are seeing these days.” Something that could translate into a “no revision of the rates for its industrial and domestic clients, or a very moderate new hiring”.
According to Ribera, the companies “understand it, in the same way that they understand that it may be necessary to advance the liquidations that in principle corresponded every three years to the companies that generate electricity with first-generation renewables.” In this sense, he said, the Government will propose a “balanced package” that allows “to have a greater contribution from companies that, certainly, are capital for the well-being of the population and for industrial production, but that are at a particularly turbulent that does not always translate into maintaining reasonable prices for consumers”.
He knows in depth all the sides of the coin.
Before Tuesday’s meeting in Madrid will come this Thursday and Friday in Brussels, in which the Twenty-seven must address measures to deal with the escalation of prices at a community level and not only nationally. An appointment that Ribera acknowledges is going to be “complicated, intense” because not all States give the same weight to the two key elements, security of supply and affordable prices. Even so, he has said, Spain considers it crucial that “a united, not unbalanced response” be achieved.
The minister did not want to reveal whether Spain and Portugal, in the event that there is no consensus, could decide to set a cap on the price of gas on their own, one of the alternatives on the table. “We have two days to find a consensus and unanimously supported solution, and that is what we have to focus on right now,” she replied.