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Spain's treasury minister, María Jesús Montero, has dodged responsibility for the country's skyrocketing electricity prices, which have set new all-time records every day this week, and has stated that the price levels do not depend on Spanish decisions. However, she added that the Spanish government is working on short and medium term measures to reduce electricity bills by 12 percent.

According to the minister, Pedro Sánchez's executive is "concerned" about the need to lower the price of power and has some room for manoeuvre to achieve a price reduction. Montero made the statements after junior coalition partner Unidas Podemos had opened a crisis in the Spanish government, announcing mobilizations against the increase in the price of electricity.

Speaking to reporters, however, Montero said, that the increase in the price of electricity was due to international factors.

"Europe also has work to do to ensure that there is no international distortion in the functioning of the electricity market," she said, adding that the European Commission "has to avoid a speculative environment caused by CO2 emission charges, which is currently raising the price."

She insisted that the Spanish government has implemented European recommendations to address this problem with short-term measures, such as the application of the electricity social bond, the suspension of VAT on electricity as well as the electricity production tax, steps which she believes will allow consumer electricity bills to fall by 12 percent.

However, she admitted that these measures "are not enough and not satisfactory for this government", and thus other formulas are being explored so that during the next quarter the overall price of this utility will be reduced, she asserted.

Regarding the criticism of the continuous rise in the price per kilowatt-hour, Montero said there was no point in apportioning blame but rather it was necessary to "understand that this system cannot be changed overnight," while adding that the government is "working hard" on proposals. Specifically, she was referring to the attitude of the opposition Popular Party (PP), and accused it of not making any proposal that would allow the government to take measures beyond those it is already implementing.

"I would like all proposals to be real and not just heckling, complaints or noise, which is what the PP does when it is in opposition," she retorted, after indicating that "under [the PP government], action could have avoided this problem that we have today, but instead, things went backward from the improvements made by [previous] Socialist governments. " According to her, since the arrival of Pedro Sánchez as prime minister "all these measures are being reversed, so that our energy system is correctly fed by the energies with the cheapest production cost".

The point, she said, was to leave behind the most expensive energy sources, such as coal, and enable the Spanish electricity system to be powered by renewable energy sources, which are "cleaner, more environmentally sound and economically more advantageous for homes and businesses,” she affirmed.

Montero avoided any criticism of Podemos in her speech.

Price nearly tripled

The average price of electricity in Spain reached a new all-time high for the third day in a row on Wednesday: 114 euros per megawatt-hour (MWh). Exactly one year ago, the same unit of power cost 39.30 euros, an increase of 190% between 2020 and 2021. Structural factors that affect the price in Spain include the high price of gas and the increase in charges for CO2 emissions.

Unidas Podemos spokeperson Pablo Echenique said yesterday that "the electricity market must be reformed by setting maximum prices on different technologies that are based on real production costs." He said that his party - junior partner in the Spanish government - would fight "within the government, in Parliament, and in the street" to end this "pillage", acusing Spanish energy companies of "setting the price speculatively to make a profit at the expense of families and small businesses."