Germany and Finland disagree over bailout of Uniper

Germany and Finland disagree over bailout of Uniper

Germany and Finland disagree on rescuing Uniper

Uniper headquarters in Düsseldorf, Germany, July 8, 2022   Germany and Finland disagree over bailout of Uniper

The main shareholder of Germany's largest gas importer, the Finnish state concern Fortum, believes that Berlin should take measures to ensure the operation of the company

On Saturday, a dispute arose between Germany and Finland over the cost of bailing out gas importer Uniper. Uniper's main shareholder, Finnish state-owned energy company Fortum, has rejected the German economy minister's call for further assistance to rescue the stricken company.

Uniper, Germany's largest gas importer, this week asked the German government for financial assistance, warning that losses due to reduced supplies from Russia and a sharp increase in gas prices could reach 10 billion euros this year.

< p>However, German Economics Minister Robert Habeck said Uniper's main shareholder, Finnish state-owned energy company Fortum, should do its part.

“It [Uniper] belongs to those who are solvent and can provide support,” Habek, who is also energy minister, told Deutschlandfunk radio. “Therefore, it is correct to consider models in which the owners also fulfill their obligations.”

Fortum, which offered to transfer the German enterprises of Uniper to state ownership, replied that it had already provided the company with loans and guarantees for 8 billion euros.

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“The German supply chain business should be owned by a federal state with the necessary high creditworthiness” as gas prices could continue to rise, Markus Rauram, CEO of Fortum, said in an email.

For Finland, whose economy is 13 times smaller than that of Germany, this is a serious problem.

“Saving Uniper is a matter of European importance,” said Titti Tuppurainen, Finnish Minister for EU Cooperation. “We urge that Uniper's system-critical endangered facilities be…taken under state control.”

After years of receiving a flood of cheap Russian gas from Germany, Berlin is struggling to contain the impact of these restrictions on supplies.

While technical problems are claimed in Russia, Western governments are calling it excuses with which Moscow is responding to devastating sanctions imposed in connection with its invasion of Ukraine.

Germany allocated 15 billion euros to buy gas from other countries to fill the gas storage facilities by winter, while the authorities called on the public to saving energy. Habeck warned that if gas prices rise even more, this may not be enough.

“Germans take an average of 10 minutes to shower,” he said. “And I think that even five minutes is too long.”

Some housing associations have already announced that they will lower the heating temperature in houses and apartments this winter, and Habek said that heating in workplaces will also may be reduced.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a video message on Saturday that energy security issues will preoccupy Germany “in the coming weeks, months and years.”