Any EU Energy Blackmail of Switzerland Could Backfire

After the recent suspension of the Swiss-EU association talks, followed by several spectacular defeats for the Green agenda in referendum (cf. SAS 22/21, 24/21), there are hints that the EU bureaucracy may “punish” Switzerland by non-preferential treatments on the energy front. That would mainly involve shutting Switzerland out of EU programs of cross-border grid security like TERRE, MARI or PICASSO, which would leave the Swiss power grid with private-sector arrangements at comparably higher costs.

However, faced with such prospects, ENTSO-E (European Network of Transmission System Operators of Electricity) and ACER (European regulatory authority) point out that Switzerland’s participation is essential for grid security in Europe –particularly if shortages in the rest of Europe need to be compensated by imports from the country’s pumped storage water power plants during the summer period. Switzerland also functions as a crucial transit for transfers from neighboring countries like Italy, France, Austria and Germany. On the other hand, Switzerland is a leading importer of surplus electricity contingents from those EU neighbors during the winter.

Apart from special arrangements with the EU, Switzerland is part of the International Grid Control Cooperation (IGCC), in which the imbalances between generation and consumption in different regions are balanced. Disrupting the Swiss component of the balance would also be disadvantageous for the EU.

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