Macron calls MidCat pipeline project connecting Africa to Europe via Catalonia 'nonsense'

French president sees "no evidence" of need for half-finished infrastructure

Gas plant of company Enagás at Barcelona's port, on April 7, 2022 (by Aina Martí)
Gas plant of company Enagás at Barcelona's port, on April 7, 2022 (by Aina Martí) / Guifré Jordan

ACN | Barcelona

September 5, 2022 06:22 PM

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, has called the MidCat gas pipeline project that could unite Africa to Europe via Catalonia "nonsense."

In a press conference on energy measures on Monday afternoon, the leader said there is "no evidence" of a need to complete the half-finished infrastructure. 

Right now, the pipeline ends in the north-central town of Hostalric in Girona, an hour north of Barcelona.

Paris had for weeks been skeptical of plans, which would imply not only reaching the border with France, but ending north of the Pyrenees in Barbairan, close to Carcassone – that is, over 200 km.

Thus, France's agreement and funding are needed to finish the works.

Last Tuesday the French economy minister, Bruno Le Maire, told the press: "Spain and Germany are very close allies to France, and when they put forward a proposal, we consider it.

Yet, after Macron's comments, the chances that the infrastructure goes ahead look very slim. 

For him, building a third pipeline connecting Spain to France makes no sense because the existing ones are "underused," because they are at 53% of their capacity, and in August, it was France the one exporting gas to Spain and not the other way round.

"If pipelines were being used at 100% of their capacity and there was a need to export gas to France or Germany, then I would say 'yes'," he added. 

For him, what is needed is more electric connections in Europe, and not more pipelines, reminding the environmental concerns over MidCat. 

Yet, Macron said he could reconsider his stance if Spain's PM, Pedro Sánchez, and Germany's chancellor, Olaf Scholz, both in favor of the works, could show him with "facts" that this project is necessary. 

Catalan government in favor of MidCat

The project is also supported by the Catalan government; last week, Catalonia's president, Pere Aragonès, welcomed the new stance.

"Europe has to increase the interconnections between the different energy markets in order to protect itself from Russia's pressure," he told the press after taking part in a panel on independence movements in Paris.

"Whatever contributes to European strategic autonomy, also when it comes to energy, is essential and will have Catalonia's support."

According to him, the fact that MidCat gas pipeline goes through Catalonia "is important for the country and highlights the geostrategic importance of Catalonia and its contributions to the European project."