A war was needed for us to discuss Energy’s real issues
TI 17 - JUNE 22

Mário Jorge Machado

President of ATP (Portuguese Textile and Clothing Association)

TP has been the voice we hear the most in the fight for the defence of companies’ interests regarding the energetic crisis we have been going through.

We witnessed the start of this critical situation in the end of last year when the prices of electric energy and mainly natural gas went up. 

From that moment onwards we have strengthened our contacts with the government, raising awareness to the difficulties of the sector and the consequences of this situation but mainly appealing to the need to take urgent and efficient measures to support companies. 

At that point we only managed to get a reduction in the access fee to electric energy and the possibility for cogeneration to sell energy to the electricity network at market prices. Slight measures, considering the severity of the problem. 

Apparently, there was nothing the government could do regarding the natural gas issue, whose prices increased 600%. “It’s the rules of the international market, there is nothing we can do”, said the politicians in charge. 

We need direct support to companies that either don’t want to or can’t go into debt any longer. We need a more flexible lay-off, the simplified lay-off, that may respond to the current needs of companies, which are actually stopping production due to the great increase of the price of gas and the impossibility of reflecting this increase in the clients. We can’t forget we are acting in a highly competitive and globalized market, meaning that international clients, who always seek the cheapest price, can easily find supply alternatives in other geographies. Even though rules are defined in the international market, we know there are countries in which energy is much cheaper than in Portugal. Some of them are our competitors and are benefitting from the deviation of orders that should have remained in Portugal.  

In what regards direct support they tell us “only with Bruxelas approval”, regarding lay off, “there is a lay off in Labour Code that companies may use”. Anyway, they are always very available but do little to defend the national economy!

Unfortunately, a war in Europe was needed for this issue to be debated again in Brussels (and because Portugal isn’t the only country affected), which ended up authorizing the member states to directly support companies, to discuss maximum prices to energy or the reformulation of price calculation, as well as the interconnection of supply systems to enable the talk concerning a unique market. It is difficult to understand that coal plants are closed when there are no guarantees for alternative supply. It is also difficult to understand how Portugal, one of the countries that has invested the most in renewable energies, still has the most expensive energy in Europe… 

We can’t talk about the decarburization of the economy and industry without mentioning the companies’ competitiveness. If they want companies to invest in decarburization it is essential that there is a cost-benefit relation which promotes that investment!

For the companies which compete in the international market, as it is the case of the textile and clothing sector, sustainability will always be aligned with the improvement of its competitiveness. You should not keep shooting yourself in the foot as long as this is not a real priority.