Thursday

8th Dec 2016

Poland urges Germany to buy less Russian gas

Polish leader Donald Tusk has said Germany should reduce its gas dependence on Russia for the sake of EU foreign policy.

Speaking to press on Monday (10 March) at a military base in Siemirowice, on Poland’s Baltic Sea coast, he said: “In future, we will not be able to successfully resist against aggressive or expansionist steps by Russia if so many European countries will be dependent on [Russian] gas and will go even further down the road of dependence.”

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Tusk (c) visited the military base in Siemirowice ahead of an anniversary of Poland's entry into Nato (Photo: premier.gov.pl)

He singled out Germany ahead of a visit by Chancellor Angela Merkel to Poland on Wednesday.

“German dependence on Russian gas could effectively limit European sovereignty,” Tusk said.

“I will speak about this with Chancellor Merkel above all else, in what way Germany could correct its economic behaviour so that dependence on Russian gas does not paralyse Europe when it needs to act quickly and unambiguously,” he added.

“It’s not just about Germany, but Germany is a good example of this phenomenon [growing dependence] in recent years.”

Tusk spoke after EU leaders last week considered a broad range of sanctions - including on Russian gas and oil - in reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula.

Russian state firm Gazprom has also threatened to stop deliveries to Ukraine, which transits Russian gas to Europe, over unpaid bills.

According to the Paris-based International Energy Agency, Russia last year supplied 167 billion cubic metres (bcm) of Europe’s 270 bcm gas imports.

Some EU countries - such as Bulgaria, Finland, and Lithuania - get all their gas from Russia, while Germany relies on Russia for about 40 percent of its supplies.

It also buys large amounts of Russian oil and coal, but it is easier to switch oil and coal providers, unlike gas, which is delivered mainly by fixed pipelines.

In a sign of Germany and Russia’s ever-closer energy relations, Merkel in 2011 turned on the taps at Nord Stream, a €7.4 billion pipeline to bring Russian gas directly to Germany under the Baltic Sea.

The man who orchestrated the project, former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, now works for Gazprom and speaks out on Russia’s side.

He told German daily Die Zeit on Monday that while Russia’s intervention in Crimea is illegal, Germany should not point fingers because it took part in Nato bombings of Serbia in 1999 without a UN mandate.

He also blamed the EU for causing the crisis by giving Ukraine an either/or choice on free trade ties with the EU or Russia. “That was the EU’s first mistake, which led to the conflict between Kiev and Moscow,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Ukraine crisis has already impacted EU-Russia energy ties.

EU energy commissioner Gunther Oettinger told German daily Die Welt on Monday he has suspended talks with Russia on a legal conflict over the South Stream pipeline, a project to pump more gas from Russia to Europe under the Black Sea.

"I won't accelerate talks about pipelines such as South Stream for the time being, they will be delayed," he said.

A spokeswoman for the EU foreign service noted the same day that EU institutions have begun “preparatory work” on potential visa bans and asset freezes on Russian officials, which could trigger a Russian retaliation.

Ukraine itself gets 90 percent of its gas imports from Russia.

But the EU is working on new arrangements to pump up to 8 bcm a year of gas in a “reverse flow” from Germany, Poland, or Slovakia to Ukraine to cut Russian dependence to 60 percent.

EU officials told EUobserver the reverse gas could start flowing in six months’ time.

It would come from a mixture of sources in Europe’s integrated pipeline network. But in the long term, EU countries are increasingly looking to shale gas, from inside Europe and from the US, as an alternative to Russian imports.

Commission won't call Castro a dictator

The EU executive says that a statement decribing the former Cuban leader as a "hero for many" is balanced and suggests that the use of the word dictator by a commissioner doesn't reflect its position.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesMEPs and Business Representatives Debated on the Future of the EU at the Winter Mingle
  2. ACCASets Out Fifty Key Factors in the Public Sector Accountants Need to Prepare for
  3. UNICEFSchool “as Vital as Food and Medicine” for Children Caught up in Conflict
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC President Breathes Sigh of Relief Over Result of Austrian Presidential Election
  5. CESICongress Re-elects Klaus Heeger & Romain Wolff as Secretary General & President
  6. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAustrian Association for Betting and Gambling Joins EGBA
  7. ACCAWomen of Europe Awards: Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  8. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  9. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  10. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First
  11. MIRAIA New Vision on Clean Tech: Balancing Energy Efficiency, Climate Change and Costs
  12. World VisionChildren Cannot Wait! 7 Priority Actions to Protect all Refugee and Migrant Children