28th May 2023

EU warns next winter may be 'difficult for European economy'

  • The 27-member bloc imports over 40 percent of its gas and nearly 37 percent of its oil from Russia (Photo: Jasmine Halki)
Listen to article

The European Commission has raised concerns over the impact of the cost of heating next winter on the continent's economy.

"We cannot underestimate the gravity of the implications of the invasion of Ukraine for our energy sector and our economy," EU energy commissioner Kadri Simson told a news conference in Warsaw on Tuesday (26 April).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"We are encouraging member states to be ready for the next heating season which might be very, very difficult for the European economy," she added.

The war in Ukraine has prompted Europe's awakening from Russian fossil-fuel dependency.

And the sixth round of sanctions on Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine is expected "very soon," Simson said.

Halting energy imports will send a "clear message" to Russia and the EU is currently moving in that direction, she added.

But EU sanctions on Russia, Simson said, also have an impact on the EU economy and the 27-nations bloc should be prepared to cushion supply disruptions in the short term.

Once the proposal is presented to EU ambassadors on Wednesday, the EU Commission will hold a bilateral meeting with member states to find common ground. But the exact date of adoption is still unclear since the EU's sanction regime requires unanimity.

The previous package of sanctions introduced an embargo on coal from Russia, while the upcoming round of sanctions is expected to include some sort of oil embargo.

Germany, which is heavily dependent on Russian energy, is calling for a gradual approach in order to phase out oil imports by the end of the year.

The 27-member bloc imports over 40 percent of its gas and nearly 37 percent of its oil from Russia, while Russian imports accounted for about 19 percent of the EU's coal use in 2020.

With the EU pledging to reduce its imports of Russian gas by two-thirds this year and phase out its energy trade with Moscow by 2027, carbon-intensive coal is getting a lifespan extension.

The Estonian commissioner said it is understandable for some member states to dampen the green transition and prolong the use of coal-fired power plants under the current circumstances.

Poland, which is also one of the main coal producers in Europe, previously said that as many coal plants as possible must be operating in the country to support both Ukraine and the EU's energy system.

But the Polish climate minister Anna Moskva said on Tuesday that it was "too early" to say whether Poland will ask Brussels for the approval to extend support for coal-fired power plants.

"Poland needs stable power sources to complement renewable output, some upgrades of existing units are necessary but there won't be any revolutionary changes to energy policy," she said.

"[Yet] it's too early to say if we will ask for an extension of the capacity market," she added.

EU member states can decide on the structure of their energy mix, although they are obliged by the EU climate law to reduce emissions by 55 percent by 2030 and achieve climate neutrality by 2050.

Threat of EU oil ban already costing Russia

Russia is already losing oil income due to the threat of a future EU embargo and there is no evidence of large-scale sanctions evasion, the EU Commission has said.


Economic worries and Hungary on the spot Next WEEK

Eurozone finance ministers will discuss the economic worries with the backdrop of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, agriculture ministers are set to talk food prices, and EU affairs ministers will put Hungary on the spot in the Article 7 procedure.


After Bucha, there can be no business as usual

Once just quiet suburbs of the capital where people lived and commuted into the city, Bucha and Irpin are now names that will be resonate all around the world.

EU: national energy price-spike measures should end this year

"If energy prices increase again and support cannot be fully discontinued, targeted policies to support vulnerable households and companies — rather than wide and less effective support policies — will remain crucial," the commission said in its assessment.


EU export credits insure decades of fossil-fuel in Mozambique

European governments are phasing out fossil fuels at home, but continuing their financial support for fossil mega-projects abroad. This is despite the EU agreeing last year to decarbonise export credits — insurance on risky non-EU projects provided with public money.

Latest News

  1. How the EU's money for waste went to waste in Lebanon
  2. EU criminal complicity in Libya needs recognition, says expert
  3. Europe's missing mails
  4. MEPs to urge block on Hungary taking EU presidency in 2024
  5. PFAS 'forever chemicals' cost society €16 trillion a year
  6. EU will 'react as appropriate' to Russian nukes in Belarus
  7. The EU needs to foster tech — not just regulate it
  8. EU: national energy price-spike measures should end this year

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  2. ICLEISeven actionable measures to make food procurement in Europe more sustainable
  3. World BankWorld Bank Report Highlights Role of Human Development for a Successful Green Transition in Europe
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic summit to step up the fight against food loss and waste
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThink-tank: Strengthen co-operation around tech giants’ influence in the Nordics
  6. EFBWWEFBWW calls for the EC to stop exploitation in subcontracting chains

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. InformaConnecting Expert Industry-Leaders, Top Suppliers, and Inquiring Buyers all in one space - visit Battery Show Europe.
  2. EFBWWEFBWW and FIEC do not agree to any exemptions to mandatory prior notifications in construction
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ways to prevent gender-based violence
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: Economic gender equality now! Nordic ways to close the pension gap
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: Pushing back the push-back - Nordic solutions to online gender-based violence
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: The Nordics are ready to push for gender equality

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us