Fears of Russia’s gas supplies being cut off completely are growing across Europe, particularly in Germany, where next winter is predicted to be “cold, dark and expensive”, with the weekend edition of the Handelsblatt business newspaper immortalising the Brandenburg Gate. Blued by ice.
Before maintenance work begins on Nord Stream 1, public attention is focused on what will happen in 10 days, when the pipeline is expected to return to normal operation; However, it is considered “highly possible” that Moscow will use the opportunity as a pretext to cut off supplies outright, with French minister Bruno Le Maire urging Europe to “prepare”. Even his German counterpart, Robert Habeck, has made no secret of his belief that a complete shutdown is possible from today.
Since Gazprom has already cut gas supplies by 60% citing technical problems with spare parts for gas pipeline turbines, Scholz’s deputy has repeatedly pointed out that the Russians’ “behavior” now appears to be impoverishing savings. However, such a radical reduction as implemented in Berlin’s analysis cannot be justified. And yesterday there were reports that pods blocked in Canada “due to economic sanctions” will soon be sent back to Germany, exposing Putin’s game.
In an environment of great uncertainty, Germans view the energy situation with strong caution, and tones are increasingly agitated. The problem first affects the industry, but despite the support measures already taken by the government, even citizens do not feel safe: not everyone can afford the exorbitant price increases already announced by Scholz’s deputy. Local administrations are already working hard to come up with emergency plans: according to Bild am Sonntag, some centers like Ludwigshafen, for example, are planning “heat islands,” i.e., hot centers for people who can’t pay their bills. , gyms and rooms have so far been earmarked for events or anticovid vaccination campaigns.
There are fears that energy costs will increase by more than €2-300 per year for households, and vulnerable segments of the population may not be able to support them. Environment Minister Lemke, from the pages of the same tabloid, asked not to turn off lights or gas to those who cannot pay immediately.
On the other hand, companies are preparing to face the first worrisome emergency: DIHK (German Industry and Unionchemer) says that if Russian gas is completely cut off (Germany depends on 35% of its needs) “many factories will have to stop production and the country will not be able to avoid recession”. The Federal Republic will face a kind of “crucial test” for Habeck, according to which “if one comes to a terrible situation of gas shortage, a very bitter debate will break out, which will lead to a situation. On the edge , close to collapse, the country and the people will not live long”.
Marcel Fratscher, head of the DIW Institute at the time, warned: “The current crisis may be the last straw to break the camel’s back on the growing social divide”. The economist, who has always held Keynesian positions, urged politicians not to “try to keep things calm with one-time placebo measures,” urging them to raise wages and focus on sustainable social action.
A clear counterpoint to liberal Finance Minister Christian Lindner, who expects a stricter budget to comply with the popular debt moratorium that has erupted in recent years due to the pandemic.
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