Tuesday

15th Oct 2019

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.”

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • 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.

EU to approve €1.1bn Ukraine aid package

The EU commission will officially agree to offer Ukraine €1.1 billion in emergency aid on Thursday, part of which will help to pay for Russian gas.

Column

These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission

These developments will largely determine who will be running the world in the coming decades and perhaps generations. If the Europeans can't find an answer over the five years, they will be toast. And we haven't even mentioned climate change.

Opinion

Time to pay attention to Belarus

Belarus may be hosting the European Games, but Vladimir Putin is not playing games when it comes to Belarus' independence. The West needs to get serious as well.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  2. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  3. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  4. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  6. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  10. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  12. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank

Latest News

  1. EU countries to halt arms sales to Turkey
  2. Nine Catalan separatist leaders given long jail terms
  3. Poland's right-wing ruler wins four more years
  4. EU powerless in new Syrian mayhem
  5. Hungarian opposition wins Budapest in blow to Orban
  6. New Dutch terror bill must not target aid workers
  7. EU proposes pesticide ban, but key documents still secret
  8. Brexit nail-biter and EU nominations This WEEK

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  2. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  3. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  8. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  9. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  12. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us