Sunday

22nd May 2022

MEPs moot new emergency fund to battle energy crisis

  • Lawmakers scrambled to find a long-term fix after Russia cut off gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland last week (Photo: European Parliament)
Listen to article

Lawmakers and EU energy commissioner Kadri Simson debated rising energy costs in Strasbourg on Tuesday (3 May) and scrambled to find a long-term fix after the Kremlin-controlled Russian gas giant Gazprom abruptly cut off supplies to Bulgaria and Poland last week.

Some called on Kadri Simson to set up a pandemic-type emergency fund to battle exploding electricity bills and speed up renewable projects.

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

"The [€800bn] EU recovery fund was an ambitious response to the pandemic, which helped individual member states fight a crisis they could not deal with alone," Laura Ferrara, an Italian non-attached member of the European Parliament, said in the plenary meeting. "Now we face another pandemic [type crisis] in the energy sector, and we need a similar response."

"Why don't you put forward an Energy Recovery Fund," Ferrara then asked Simson.

But Simson was reluctant to embrace such a proposal and pointed out member states already have access to EU funding from different sources, while adding that the existing budget binds the European Commission's hands.

In March, the commission unveiled RepowerEU, an ambitious strategy that aims to reduce Russian gas imports by two-thirds before the end of the year.

In mid-May, further details will be unveiled on how this is to be achieved and how to end Russian gas imports by 2027.

"One-third of Russian gas can be replaced by gas from other suppliers, and renewables can replace the other one-third before the end of the year," Simson said.

But some lawmakers remained unconvinced existing funds are enough to replace Russian gas with alternative clean energy speedily. "We need so much more money for renewables," Michael Bloss, a German lawmaker for the Greens, said.

Fit for 55, the EU's landmark emissions reduction policy, currently targets 40 percent renewable energy in 2030. But Bloss and some other lawmakers called on the Commission to increase the target to 57 percent.

"Loud voices say that 40 percent is not enough. Broadly we agree we need to accelerate renewables," Simson said, adding the Commission has simplified permits for wind and solar projects, which will cut years off building wind and solar parks.

But commission plans to rapidly decrease Russian gas imports will depend on energy-saving measures rather than just expanding and speeding up clean energy production.

"Expanding renewables is not enough to replace Russian gas imports. Energy-saving and energy efficiency is the core of our strategy," Simson said. "This will help governments to avert the worst energy cuts."

MEPs seek full embargo on Russian energy

MEPs called for an immediate and "full" embargo on Russian oil, coal, nuclear fuel, and gas in response to atrocities in Ukraine. But a coal ban is the only likely move for now.

Commission grilled on RePowerEU €210bn pricetag

EU leaders unveiled a €210bn strategy aiming to cut Russian gas out of the European energy equation before 2027 and by two-thirds before the end of the year — but questions remain on how it is to be financed.

News in Brief

  1. UK to send 'hundreds' of migrants to Rwanda each year
  2. Norwegian knife attacks were domestic dispute
  3. Sweden hits back at Turkey's 'disinformation' in Nato bid
  4. Germany's Schröder gives up one of two Russia jobs
  5. G7 countries pledge €18bn in financial aid for Ukraine
  6. Italian unions strike in protest over military aid for Ukraine
  7. Russia cuts gas supply to Finland
  8. Half of Gazprom's clients have opened rouble accounts

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. What Europe still needs to do to save its bees
  2. Remembering Falcone: How Italy almost became a narco-state
  3. Economic worries and Hungary on the spot Next WEEK
  4. MEPs urge sanctioning the likes of ex-chancellor Schröder
  5. MEPs call for a more forceful EU response to Kremlin gas cut
  6. Catalan leader slams Pegasus use: 'Perhaps I'm still spied on'
  7. More EU teams needed to prosecute Ukraine war crimes
  8. French EU presidency struggling on asylum reforms

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us