This negotiation on the price of gas with Norway should seal our strategic friendship

The cooperation between Norway and the European Union is not only an economic one. It is much more. It is a shared political vision and shared values, particularly regarding foreign policy, climate action or energy policy.

However, there is one thing that makes us very different at the moment : we are not on the same side of gas rent.

The rise of gas prices is a staggering windfall for Norway, which will collect a net fossil rent of approximately 94 billion euros this year. This equals a rise of about 65 billion euros compared to last year. It is a significant windfall for Norway, while it will be very difficult to cope with this for European societies and economies.

The Norwegian government stood in solidarity with its neighbours by increasing production by 1.4 billion cubic meters from three key fields in March. This decision was a decisive answer to the looming gas supply crisis. Today, six months later, the situation evolved. Because of gas and energy prices, some European households and companies see their energy bills multiplied by 6 or 10, while the number of unpaid bills is booming.

In this context, as allies, partners, friends, it is legitimate to discuss together a capped price for gas which would work for both parties. I therefore welcome, like many of my colleagues of the European Parliament, the announcement of the President of the European Commission, Ursula van der Leyen to open negotiations on potential capped prices for gas with key suppliers like Norway. The agreement of the Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre to open negotiations is a sign in the right direction.

Considering the situation in the European Union, this dialogue must end successfully as quickly as possible, ideally before the next Council of European Energy Ministers, which will take place on September, 30th.

Norway is now the first gas partner of the EU. It has no interest in a liquidity crisis of the large European energy companies, neither does it have an interest in an accelerated economic recession of its first commercial partner, nor in the rise of populist movements whose aim are to weaken Europe, to fragment the single market, and, in fine, to stand-by Poutine. Sharing the fossil war rent could allow European states to gain more leeway.

If gas prices are so high, it is first and foremost because Poutine uses this energy source as a weapon. Then, it is because Europe has decided to react on all levels to support Ukraine and counter the Russian invasion. Europe is supplying weapons, imposing sanctions, deciding on embargos on Russian oil and coal, contributing to the financial solidarity with Ukraine by committing to pay 14 billion. By acting in this way, Europeans protect the whole continent. This is why we expect a strong political signal coming from Norway. A political gesture, with a both economic and moral basis, which will allow us to decide between allies on the price of gas exported from Norway to the European Union, without letting that power to Poutine.

This negotiation on the price of gas should seal our strategic friendship in the midst of a dramatic period in the History of Europe. Let’s all meet half way!

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Pascal Canfin

Député Renew Europe. Président de la commission ENVI du Parlement européen.