Sep 23 2022 7:25 p.m
An energy crisis of unprecedented proportions is accelerating in Europe, with economic and social consequences that could be tsunami-like. An ice-cold winter is not the only threat in Germany, a blackout no longer seems to be out of the question in France either.
Von Pierre Levy
Will there be electricity in Paris over the Christmas period? If the French nuclear power plants, which are currently being overhauled, can soon be put back into operation and the weather cooperates (long live “global warming” …), then power supply interruptions are unlikely, reassures the French electricity transmission network (RTE: Electricity transmission network) its end users. The prerequisite for this, however, is that one adheres to the instructions issued by the government on “thrift”.
Thus, in the 21st century, one of the richest countries in the world is being made to consider a blackout and at the same time ordered the heating to be turned down as a precaution. It took a “progressive” president to oversee such an actual regression of historic proportions. With a somber grace that often accounts for his charm, Emmanuel Macron recently prophesied the “end of abundance”.
Difficulty accessing hydrocarbons as an energy source and the associated dizzying price increases: an energy crisis of unprecedented proportions is accelerating in Europe, the economic and social consequences of which could be like a tsunami. There are three main factors at work here:
The first of these is “systemic”, as the Brussels linguists would say, namely the “mystical” market processes. Gas trading in particular has not always been determined by market mechanisms. In the past, long-term contracts ensured stable revenues for both producing countries and low prices for buyers. This was before the supply of gas was “liberalised” and the former state monopolies (eg in France) were deregulated – one of the most important “achievements” of the European Union (EU).
The second factor relates to the now common buzzword of the globalized elites: reducing CO2 emissions. For example, the EU system for trading in CO2 certificates aims to make the use and production of carbon-based energy more expensive. Spain’s social-democratic government, which certainly cannot be suspected of being a “climate skeptic”, is calling for the eco-tax, which is also determined by market mechanisms and has seen an enormous increase, to be frozen. So far without success.
Finally, the third factor is the one that started the fire: the sanctions imposed on Moscow by EU leaders. The EU made the political decision to first boycott Russian coal and, a little later, Russian oil, and finally threatened to do the same for natural gas from the pipelines before the Kremlin finally intervened with counter-sanctions and the streams delivered through the pipelines themselves drastically restricted. The result is that the price of gas – for which the 27 EU members are now desperate to find alternative suppliers – has risen 12-fold in less than a year, leading to a huge increase in electricity prices as well.
With incredible audacity, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, publicly blamed Russia for this energy crisis. In fact, Moscow would have happily continued its deliveries – even during the war in Ukraine – if Brussels had not vowed to bring Russia to its knees with an economic war.
But it seems that the majority of the peoples in the EU, faced with the drastic decline in their purchasing power and further looming restrictions, are less and less fooled – from Prague to Leipzig and from Athens to Brussels to Naples, protest movements are growing and demonstrations are taking place , calling for talks with Moscow instead of unconditional support for Kiev, or even calling for the opening of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the Baltic Sea – a prospect Brussels doesn’t want to hear about.
And even in France, where neither the so-called “left” parties nor the unions dare to question the principle that Moscow must be punished, the elites are worried: “Doubts and weariness threaten to take hold,” warned one of them with alarm editorial published in Le Monde (September 13). The daily points out that the sanctions are necessary “and will work”. Is the war in Ukraine already coming to an end? no way. But Russia “is only at the beginning of a long economic ordeal,” says Le Monde, secretly cheering, inadvertently revealing the true purpose of the sanctions.
Most importantly, “a change of course on sanctions would amount to reinforcing Vladimir Putin’s vision of a cowardly Europe, unable to take its place in history,” the newspaper argues, adding that “deviating from it course (…) could be fatal for the European project”. So you have to stay the course, even at the expense of “our energy comfort and our economic prosperity”.
Punishing Moscow and continuing European integration – so that is ultimately why we may freeze to death in a few months. However, if these insights into the cold truth continue to spread, it could still be a hot winter in the EU.
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