Open Parliament on Energy Reform Concludes
On Feb. 28, the Open Parliament Forum on President López Obrador's energy reform proposal ended. Following 42 days of discussions, 25 open forums and presentations of 135 expert panelists, Congress remains divided on the reform’s approval.
During the last panel, Mexico’s Minister of Energy Rocío Nahle defended the president's reform and asked Congress to approve the bill as soon as possible. Nahle highlighted that "a country's independence is measured in liters and watts, so fuels are directly linked to economic and national security."
Opinions on the effectiveness of the open parliament format remain divided. Opposition party PAN stressed that the exercise was a mere simulation. Spokesperson Marcos Aguilar said that the party was pessimistic about the results of the open parliament process. “We fear that MORENA has systematically simulated an openness that is never reflected in actual results.”
Likewise, the relatively new MC party communicated its stance against the reform proposal while qualifying the open parliament as a sham. Jorge Álvarez Máynez, MC’s Parliamentary Leader, proposed to fast-forward the reform’s vote to March, a position that is not shared by its allies, PAN and PRI.
Ignacio Mier, MORENA's Parliamentary Leader, highlighted the success of the Open Parliament due of its wide participation level. Sergio Gutiérrez Luna, Congress President and Deputy, MORENA, celebrated the discussion. "This exercise is historic, never before has the modification of any Law or the Constitution been discussed so deeply. The 25 forums were carried out successfully and with total openness, listening to all voices with a common objective: a better future in electricity matters for Mexico."
Meanwhile, PRI has not yet decided its position, which will be fundamental for the government’s required qualified majority in Parliament. "We have not defined our position, we only listened to what was presented,” stated Rubén Moreira, PRI’s Parliamentary Leader. Subsequently, Moreira commented that combating climate change is important to his party. For this reason, he will present a proposal to include the fight against climate change in the Constitution, without taking a stance on the reform.
Mexico’s private sector did not participate in the spaces it was granted within the Open Parliament. Congress invited at least 15 owners and top executives of companies to a forum regarding producers and consumers. Among those invited were Iberdrola, Enel Green Power, Grupo Lala, Grupo Bimbo, Walmart, Alsea, Femsa, Kimberly Clark, CitiBank, Santander, HSBC, BBVA and Grupo Mexico. Of these, only two attended the Congress: power producer Fortius Electromecánica and energy consumer Bachoco. Experts interpret industry leaders’ unwillingness to present their view in the Open Parliament as a strong rejection to the president’s reform.
Regardless, the private sector’s insight was present through the participation of key associations, which include CCE, CONCAMIN, CANACINTRA and COPARMEX. All reiterated their rejection to the reform.
With the culmination of the Open Parliament process, the discussion period of the bill begins in the Energy and Constitutional Points Commissions within Congress. In addition, political parties will discuss the reform proposal internally with the aim to define a party-wide position. The discussion and a subsequent vote are scheduled for April, although PAN and PRI do not rule out that the vote on the reform could be postponed until June as to avoid friction with other electoral processes.