French President Emmanuel Macron has opposed the France-Spain Midcat gas pipeline project, arguing that the capacity of the two existing gas pipelines that cross the Pyrenees is underutilized and that flows are mainly in the direction of Spain.
Last month, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz advocated the construction of a gas pipeline from Portugal through Spain and France to central Europe, so that Europe would no longer depend on Russian energy, and said he had lobbied hard to get this project started.
Macron said that in recent weeks the existing gas pipelines between Spain and France are operating at only half their capacity and that the flow had been mainly in the direction of Spain.
“I don’t understand what short-term problem this would solve,” Macron told a news conference after a video conference with Scholz on Europe’s energy problems.
“I don’t understand why we would jump like goats from the Pyrenees on this issue,” he said, paraphrasing a famous expression by former President Charles De Gaulle.
Macron said he was not convinced of the need for more gas interconnections, but added that if Scholz or Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez could prove otherwise, he was willing to review his position.
Spain and Portugal have huge gas import capacity through their LNG terminals and Scholz sees them as a way to boost gas pipeline interconnections in Europe.
France has long been opposed to a new trans-Pyrenean gas pipeline and prefers the installation of new LNG terminals.
Launched in 2013, the Midcat project would connect to the Spanish gas pipeline north of Barcelona and could significantly boost the import of Algerian gas to northern Europe. The project was suspended in 2019 for cost and environmental reasons.