Despite the persistent opposition of French president Emmanuel Macron to the Midcat gas pipeline project, he will now have a rethink. France is to examine the possibility because Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, and the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, who are "friends", are requesting the reconsideration. This was announced on Tuesday by the French economy minister, Bruno Le Maire, just after Spain and Germany had forged an alliance to create this new gas pipeline link passing through the eastern Pyrenees, from Catalonia to Occitanie. Macron's minister, who made the statements at the summer university of French employers' association MEDEF in Paris, did not want to answer questions from the press on this matter at the end of the event in which he was taking part.
"From the moment that the Spanish prime minister and the German chancellor asked for it, from the moment that friends ask for it, we examine the requests of our friends, our partners," said Le Maire. And he also reiterated the idea that "Spain and Germany are very close partners of France, so when they make a proposal we examine it". Both of those governments echoed the position in Berlin today. The French minister also recalled that this infrastructure project "is a very old question".
In fact, the two countries worked in the past on the possibility of building a gas pipeline between the two countries that would pass through Catalonia and that would be added to the two that exist on the western side of the Pyrenees, but it was abandoned in 2019. Just two weeks ago, the French energy transition ministry indicated its strong reluctance to resume the project, despite statements by several European leaders in favour of the infrastructure, in the current context of historically high energy prices due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
German chancellor Olaf Scholz today underlined his executive's "full support" for Midcat as a "long-term" solution for European gas supply. "Security of supply is part of national, German and European security", Scholz said during an appearance with Sánchez, who had been invited to take part in the start of the extraordinary two-day German cabinet meeting being held in Meseberg, on the outskirts of Berlin.
The Sánchez-Scholz accord on the Midcat
Sánchez and Scholz made a joint statement this Tuesday from the palace of Meseberg, near Berlin, in which the German chancellor assured that Spain has the support of its government to build this gas pipeline. Berlin would even advocate for European Union financing for a significant part of the project, which was initially priced at around 440 million euros and which France now estimates at around 3 billion euros. Sánchez has shown himself determined to take the Midcat right all the way, with or without Macron. The French leader, meanwhile, has indicated support for Italy to become the new distributor of Algerian gas.