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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

“Gas theft” from Italy: Politicians showed wisdom

In an emergency, the federal government would like to use the Transit gas line between Germany and Italy. Some energy politicians acknowledge this, while others remain silent.

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needed in short

  • In an emergency, there is likely to be a gas shortage in this country in the winter due to the Ukraine war.
  • This is why the federal government wants to cut the gas intended for Italy in the event of a shortage.
  • Even the SVP’s energy politicians do not vehemently criticize this strategy.

Do we have to freeze in winter? The Ukraine war and the resulting gas shortage is keeping Europe busy. EU member states can work together, with Switzerland largely alone.

So the federal government is trying to conclude solidarity agreements with neighboring countries, which is difficult given the tense situation. Germany and Italy want to greatly reduce their gas exports.

But the Federal Council has something up its sleeve: the transit pipeline that supplies gas from Germany to Italy runs through Switzerland. Thanks to this pipeline, Switzerland also had enough natural gas to supply itself since the 1970s.

Years ago, the federal government included an emergency clause in a contract with the Italian government. If there is a serious shortage, Switzerland can claim the gas for itself. Then Italy would have none of this. According to a report in the Sunday newspaper, Energy Minister Simonetta Somaruga uses this clause to put pressure on Rome.

«Putin is the enemy, not the EU»

According to sources in the “Tamedia” newspaper, this tactic sparked outrage in Italy. Is Somaruga’s approach wise? Nau.ch asked three energy politicians.

Bastian Girod (Greens/ZH) gives a differentiated answer. “It’s true that we use the pipeline as a deposit,” he says. “But it must be done tactfully and not come across as a threat.”

But that certainly isn’t smart, according to the ETH lecturer, “not part of the EU’s gas savings program”. And then also announcing that the transit line will be tapped if necessary. “We must work with the EU, not against it,” demands Giroud.

Greens National Council calls for agreement: «Putin is the enemy, not the EU. Together we will tackle the winter better.”

It sounds similar to Barbara Schaffner, GLP National Counselor and Zurich. “First and foremost, I think it is important that Switzerland shows solidarity with the European Union,” says the National Councillor. She also supports demands for gas savings because it shows the EU that Switzerland is also making an effort. “So far there has been no clear communication from the Federal Council and related measures,” complains Schaffner.

But: “If the fronts become tighter, then even Switzerland can show its teeth and insist on the rights stipulated in the contract.” In addition to the right of transmission, the federal government has created other options for gas distribution and storage. So it’s not about claiming “Italian” gas, according to Schaffner.

SVP-Imark blames Somaruga

Christian Emark (SO), a colleague of the Commission, on the other hand, answers entirely on the SVP line. Somaruga would have to answer whether it would be right to tap the gas line: “It’s your policy that got us into this situation.”

The current dispute between Italy and Switzerland shows that the federal government’s energy strategy is not crisis-resistant, Emark continued. “Ms Somaruga continues Ms Leuthard’s misguided policy and is thus largely to blame for the current crisis,” he criticizes.

Are you afraid of lack of gas in winter?

The federal councilor of SP is riding the country “back and forth in chaos with her activism”. Emark chimed in: “I don’t see how the national supply should be settled with such a brash acting federal councillor.”

More on the topic:

Simonetta Somaruga Sunday newspaper Bastian Girod Ukraine War National Council Federal Council Government Pipeline Tamedia Green War GLP SVP SP EU

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