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The refusal of the French president, Emmanuel Macron, to complete the construction of the Midcat gas pipeline to connect the Iberian peninsula with the rest of Europe means there is nowhere left to go for this project that the Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, and the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz have been defending with such enthusiasm in recent weeks. In Macron's opinion, the gas pipeline through the Catalan Pyrenees is not necessary, reactivating the work would not be immediate and would take time - several years - which is not available, and the current gas interconnections between the two states through the Basque Country and Navarra are underutilized.

Brussels, Germany and Spain have not made Macron modify his position. Neither has the turning off of the tap until further notice for the Russian Nord Stream gas pipeline , which supplies all of Central Europe. That was confirmed last Friday, and this Monday, the first working day since the announcement, gas prices rose by around 30%, and the threat of factories closing through being unable to pay the new price has ceased to be a possibility to mutate into a reality. A significant part of major German companies are starting to be more concerned about the gas price than about the supply.

And here, in Catalonia, the strongest position with respect to Macron has been taken by the employers' association Foment del Treball, while environmental groups have defended that the energy crisis must be solved with an efficient model based on savings and scaled-up renewables. Not so long ago, in 2018, the Catalan parties ERC and the PSC voted against Midcat in the Diputació de Girona, the provincial authority. Be that as it may, the gas pipeline which ends at Hostalric, north of Barcelona, will not be reactivated and the interests of Germany and Spain will be secondary, since the French president has no intention of allowing his arm to be twisted and the engineering construction required needs to pass through French territory.

The solution to the lack of gas due to the war in Ukraine will have to be found elsewhere and it is clear that in that case the Spanish positions lose importance. Pedro Sánchez has moved onto the back foot in relations with Algeria after the handover of Western Sahara to Morocco and, instead, Italy has gained positions, having managed to increase ts supply of gas and improve the price it pays. France and Algeria - Africa's largest gas exporter - have a turbulent relationship, but signed a renewed partnership in August to reactivate their relations. It's not easy for either of them, but the war in Ukraine has made them work hard.

In short, the Midcat is returning to the freezer from which it had not even properly emerged despite the media pressure to send it first into the refrigerator and later into the kitchen. Thus does Macron play his cards, which are French and not European. Pure realpolitik.