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Franco-Spanish Energy Spat Threatens To Scupper EU Climate Deal

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Christian Oliver in Brussels and Tobias Buck in Madrid, Financial Times

When it comes to Europe’s energy networks, Spain is an island – and it blames France for its isolation.

After decades of frustration, Madrid’s anger is now boiling over ahead of an EU summit this week, where diplomats expect a showdown between Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and French President François Hollande.

Renewable energy lies at the heart of their dispute: Spanish wind turbines easily produce more power than is needed in the domestic market but that energy is wasted because there are few transmission lines to carry it across the border to France.

Viewed from Madrid, the Pyrenees are a protectionist barrier behind which France has been shielding its nuclear industry from the competition posed by Spain’s abundant renewables.

At a summit in Brussels on Thursday, Spain and Portugal will demand changes to force the 28 member states to connect their power grids to neighbours in an attempt to resolve their frustration. They are even threatening to block the EU’s climate package for 2030 – the centrepiece of its effort to fight global warming – unless they get their way.

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