France's Macron says to discuss Pyrenees gas pipeline with Spain next week

Leaders of EU and neighbouring countries meet in Prague

PARIS/MADRID (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron said in Prague that he will meet with his Spanish and Portuguese counterparts next week to discuss the cross-Pyrenees MidCat gas pipeline project and reach a “pragmatic” solution.

“I’ll see (Spanish) Prime Minister (Pedro) Sanchez and (Portuguese) Prime Minister (Antonio) Costa in Paris in a few days and the three of us will find very pragmatic agreements,” Macron said at an EU energy summit in the Czech capital.

Sanchez said at the same summit that France’s willingness to strike a deal on the pipeline showed it was responding to its domestic demands.

“I believe that one way or another, sooner or later, we will reach an agreement that manages to bring together all the sensitivities and concerns that France has,” Sanchez added.

Macron had previously argued against the project, which is strongly backed by Germany as a backup for halted Russian gas deliveries.

On Wednesday, Spain’s Sanchez and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz met in the Spanish city of La Coruna and issued a joint statement saying that a “sufficiently big hydrogen-ready gas pipeline across the Pyrenees to be operative by 2025 is of paramount importance to achieve a truly robust internal energy market within the EU, accelerate the green transition and reinforce EU’s strategic autonomy.”

Speaking on Friday, Macron signalled that he still did not agree, and the pipeline is not in line with France’s goal to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Instead, he wants to help Spain increase its power interconnections with France, he said.

(Reporting by Michel Rose and Tassilo Hummel in Paris and David Latona in Madrid, editing by GV De Clercq and Louise Heavens)

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