June 20. 2024. 12:34

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Iberian leaders meet to maintain ‘great harmony’

Portugal and Spain will meet again at a summit this week in Lanzarote in the Canary Islands to enhance bilateral relations ahead of the Spanish EU Presidency amid a polarised atmosphere in Madrid due to the upcoming municipal and national elections.

The 34th summit between the governments of Portugal and Spain comes just four months after the previous one, in November in Viana do Castelo.

The reason for the summit is Spain’s “intense internal agenda” regarding upcoming municipal elections, Spain’s EU Council presidency in the second half of the year, and the desire of the two countries to keep the annual meeting, Spanish government sources explained on Monday.

The fact that there will be an Iberian summit in 2023, in a year in which Spain will still have general legislative elections in December, is “very positive as a message”, argued the same sources who also stressed that there is “great harmony” between the two governments.

The same sources said that the EU agenda would be one of the central issues at the meeting as Spain is just a few months away from assuming its six-month EU Council presidency.

In Lanzarote, Sánchez is expected to exchange views with Costa on the European agenda, “somewhat in line” with what he is doing with tours of European capitals to listen to counterparts as part of the Spanish EU presidency.

Sánchez intends to visit around 15 European capitals by July, before Spain takes over the presidency of the EU Council, and has already been to Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia.

The aim of these trips is to present the priorities of the Spanish presidency to his counterparts and to hear the other governments’ views on issues such as the negotiations for a migration and asylum pact or the strengthening of the Union’s strategic autonomy.

Energy on the agenda

The sources explained that energy would be a key topic. During the energy crisis, the two countries were allowed by Brussels to apply the so-called “Iberian mechanism” to limit the price of gas used to produce electricity.

The measure is in force until May this year, but both countries have asked the EU for an extension until at least the end of 2023, with no response yet.

The final version of the joint declaration is still being negotiated, but according to the sources, it should have references to the commitment to implementing the H2MED project of gas pipelines to transport hydrogen between the Iberian Peninsula and France.

Lisbon and Madrid want this to be “green hydrogen”, i.e. produced with renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. At the same time, France has said it would also like to cover hydrogen produced with nuclear energy.