After European People’s Party President Manfred Weber claimed earlier this week that countries with ample gas reserves must be forced to share their gas with other nations, the Hungarian Minister for Technology and Industry László Palkovics responded on Tuesday that his country will not allow the European Union to take control of its gas reserves.
“Until now, the Hungarian regulations have made it possible to help the residential consumers of neighboring countries in an energy crisis in the spirit of solidarity, but this cannot endanger the security of our domestic energy supply. The operation of Hungarian gas storage facilities is and will remain in Hungarian hands,” Palkovics’ ministry said in a statement.
The Hungarian ministry warned that if a gas confiscation scheme were ever implemented, it would jeopardize the national sovereignty of member states, according to a report from Hungarian news outlet ATV.
“The EU Energy Platform launched by the European Commission is not aimed at mandatory joint procurement of natural gas, but is based on voluntary participation. In our opinion, the procurement of energy carriers and the provision of energy supply are ultimately the responsibility of the member states,” according to the ministry’s statement.
‘Reminiscent of communist times’ – The EU may force member states like Hungary to ‘share’ gas with countries like Germany
Other countries may want to seize Hungary’s cheap Russian oil and gas while at the same time pretending Hungary is the “bad guy” for obtaining the energy in the first place
As Remix News previously reported, in an interview on Sunday in German newspaper Tagesspiegel, Weber proposed that the European Union should hold a summit on the “equitable distribution” of natural gas through a “binding mechanism” in July.
“Europe urgently needs decisions on binding energy solidarity. I don’t want to experience any more confusion like during the pandemic when everyone closed the borders and provided themselves with masks as Europe failed,” Weber said.
Other Hungarian commentators have already issued far harsher assessments of Weber’s gas confiscation proposal than Pelkovics, with Hungarian energy expert Máté Tóth describing it as a move that evokes memories of communist times.
EPP’s Weber wants ‘equitable’ gas distribution, majority decisions in the EU
Weber also says he does not want to rely on Viktor Orbán for making foreign policy decisions or imposing sanctions
“The idea itself is preposterous, but unfortunately it was to be expected. This idea was already lurking in the shadows. The only question was who would bring it up since the sweeping away of national gas reservoirs evokes memories of communist confiscation,” Tóth told Mandiner.
In the spirit of “mandatory energy solidarity,” Weber also suggested that the gas reservoirs operating in the EU should be operated jointly, and the natural gas procurement should be carried out jointly as well by the EU member states.
In the same interview, Weber said, “I’m fed up with the fact that we rely on Viktor Orbán for deciding foreign policy issues or the EU oil embargo.”
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Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action Robert Habeck, a member of The Greens, claimed the move is a “bitter pill” but necessary in the current situation
Commenting on that, Palkovics said, “Manfred Weber has always made derogatory statements about the Hungarian people and Hungary. This is why Hungary did not support his election to the position of president of the European Commission.”
Orbán and Weber have long had an acrimonious relationship, with Weber making derogatory remarks about Hungarians in the past, leading Orbán to drop his support for Weber’s bid for president of the European Commission. Orbán has since said that Weber has joined the “elite club of the left” and abandoned all conservative principles.
In a radio interview on Friday, Orbán said he is not even willing to discuss any proposal of an EU gas embargo.