There are a lot of different things to do in German cities this summer. Visitors to the local swimming pools have to take a cold shower after their swim. 200 of Berlin's major tourist landmarks will no longer be illuminated at night as the city switches off lights.
The country's economics and climate ministry declared a major gas alert. They said that the situation is tense and can't be ruled out. At the end of August, there will be unexpected maintenance on the major gas line that delivers gas into Germany and on to Europe. Skeptics say the decision by Russia, which sits at one end of the massive line, is meant to tighten the screws on Europe for its support of Ukraine.
There is uncertainty about whether the flows will resume on September 2. Russia has said it will supply 20 percent of the total capacity when it returns to service. Europe plans to cut gas consumption by 15 percent.
At the same time as Germany reduces its energy use, it allows gas to flow through the country to other European countries. It is the same thing when it comes to electricity in Germany, where prices have hit record highs, but it is not keeping it for itself.
It is the result of a Europe-wide initiative that began in 1996 and was strengthened in 2003 and 2009. Failure to fully implement the market reforms may be coming back to bite the continent.
The goal of the market opening was to make sure that everyone in Europe could rely on a constant supply of energy. When countries agreed on terms with large fossil fuel producers, contracts were drawn at prices set by new trading hubs in Europe. The professor of energy at Sciences Po says that if we are united, we will be stronger. It was the idea. The process was made transparent. Russia saw it as its worst nightmare.
The desire to drive a low price for supplies was more important than the security of supply. According to the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, liberalism is not driven by security of supply. Efficiency and lower prices drive liberalism. You usually get them.
In the 1990s, when each country had its own market, its own monopoly, and its own protectionist energy policy, we definitely succeeded. Some of the things that are earmarked as success also play a part in Europe's energy source problem. There are no perfect markets.