The EU wants to increase its energy independence and prepares new measures to curb the price of electricity
The European Union does not see a reduction in the price of gas on the horizon. Added to the rise in energy costs that began during the pandemic is the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which threatens to become the perfect storm for energy prices. To avoid this, Brussels sees it as “essential” to reduce its dependence on Russian gas and, in the future, does not rule out vetoing its purchase as part of the sanctions on Moscow.
Currently, 40% of the European gas supply and 30% of oil and its derivatives come from this country, which “puts the European Union in a fragile situation”, recognized the Ministers of Energy of the Twenty-seven. However, as confirmed by the economic vice president of the European Commission, Valdis Dombrovskis, Brussels “does not exclude any measure” as possible punishments against Russia.
Although “there is nothing concrete” on the table yet, Europe is clear that it must increase its energy independence. “We must not allow any third country to destabilize our energy market,” said Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson. This disconnection from Russia, in addition to a practical nature, responds to a moral question. According to the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, “Russia uses our money to finance its military offensive in Ukraine.”
The alternative could lie with other gas suppliers such as the United States, Qatar, Egypt or with large buyers of liquefied gas such as Japan, with whom the EU has already had contacts. At the moment, the European leaders point out that the supply for the winter “is guaranteed” with the gas stores at 30% and they opt for the “diversification of suppliers”.
Solidarity with Ukraine
The meeting of the community energy ministers also served to advance the contingency plan of the European Commission, which is preparing new measures to curb the price of energy that it will present next week. This is a second “toolbox”, explained Simson, which “deepens” the path marked out by Brussels in October.
The Spanish minister, Teresa Ribera, defended at the summit on Monday the need to decouple the price of gas from that of electricity. It is a proposal that Spain has already submitted to Brussels on several occasions and that, until now, has been ignored. However, Ribera considers that the temporary application of this measure “is essential” to tackle the current volatility of prices and celebrated that within the Twenty-seven “there are more and more proposals” to curb the price of energy.
Yes, there was unanimity to respond to Ukraine’s energy needs. The country is no longer connected to the Russian electrical system, which increases the risk of blackouts. To avoid them, Commissioner Simson announced that the EU will connect Kiev to the community electricity system. “We will also send diesel, gas, crude oil and electric generators,” she assured.
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