Call for EU Energy Union to End Russian Blackmail

Written by | Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Faced with the dependence on Russian energy that makes the European Union weak, Brussels must work hard to create an energy union to secure its gas supply. This is the main message that came from an authoritative article by Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk published in the Financial Times. Russia, which supplies around one third of the EU’s oil and gas, sent raised eyebrows around Europe and international community with its outright military intervention and annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula earlier in March. To that end, Donald Tusk wrote in his article that “Regardless of how the stand-off over Ukraine develops, one lesson is clear: excessive dependence on Russian energy makes Europe weak.”
While the EU has been working to launch a banking union and it has been jointly buying uranium for its nuclear power plants, Tusk argues that the Union’s approach to Russian gas should be the same. The energy union, as proposed by the Polish Prime Minister, should be based on several elements, which would include, first, the creation of a single European body that would buy gas for the whole 28-nation bloc and, second, “solidarity mechanisms” to de deployed if one or more EU countries were threatened with being cut off from gas supplies. Third, the EU must also help finance gas storage capacity and gas links in countries which are now most dependent on Russian gas sold by the state-owned Russian gas monopoly Gazprom. On this point, Tusk warns that “today, at least 10 EU member states depend on a single supplier – Gazprom – for more than half of their consumption. Some are wholly dependent on Russia’s state-controlled gas giant.” The fourth element was the full use of the EU’s existing fossil fuels, including coal and shale gas. Most European energy policy making is currently in the hands of national governments.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in an address to politicians shown live on television responded to Europe’s threat of cutting back on gas from Russia amid the prospect of further sanctions over the Ukraine crisis. Referring to the talk of Europe importing gas from the US as nothing more than a “bluff”, Medvedev stressed that Moscow has its eyes on other markets: “We are interested in diversifying today more so than ever before. Therefore, we are implementing solutions for the export of gas and oil to Asian and Pacific countries, first and foremost China, but also Japan and other countries.”

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