Thursday

7th Jul 2022

Barroso seeks more access to Russian energy

  • Barroso wants new energy partnership with Russia (Photo: European Commission)

The European Union will bring its plans for a common energy policy to Moscow on Friday when European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso meets president Vladimir Putin ahead of a G8 energy ministers' meeting on energy security.

The 25-member bloc is seeking to reach a new partnership with oil and gas-rich Russia after a gas crisis with Ukraine in January ignited EU worries about its reliability as Europe's key supplier.

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Russia provides a quarter of the bloc's gas, much of it through a Ukrainian pipeline, and is expected to be an even more important supplier in the future.

Mr Barroso, speaking at a weekend meeting of EU leaders, said the situation could be a "win-win" deal for both sides.

"My question is whether Russia is ready to be our credible, stable, strategic partner or not? That is the question I will put to president Putin. If this is the case, we will help to make sure we have the same approach on the European Union side," Mr Barroso said, according to the Financial Times.

Brussels wants Russia to open access to its pipelines to other gas suppliers and to its reserves to EU companies.

In return, EU officials have aired the idea of Russian companies gaining access to the lucrative retail end of a market serving 450 million customers.

Despite Russia's good record as Europe's main supplier of energy for decades, the Russian company Gazprom’s dispute with Ukraine earlier this year over natural gas, led to a sudden cut in supplies for Europe.

The crisis sparked EU fears that the world's biggest country saw energy supplies as a weapon to use for political gain.

Mr Barroso and Mr Putin will also be discussing how to deal with Iran's nuclear ambitions and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Recently, energy policy has made it to the top of the EU agenda with the EU green paper on energy, as the 25-member bloc tries attempts to reach a common voice on a subject long held sacred by national governments.

Russia assumed the G8 presidency at the beginning of this year and it is the first time that St Petersburg will host the G8 summit.

Diplomats have said that in preparatory discussions, Moscow was focusing on long-term supply contracts rather than market access in its approach to energy security, according to Reuters news agency.

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