Monday

5th Dec 2016

Time for EU energy union, says Polish PM

The European Union must create an energy union to secure its supply and reduce its dependence on Russian gas, Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk has said.

Tusk's energy blueprint, set out in an article in the Financial Times on Tuesday (22 April), would establish a single European body that would buy gas for the whole 28-nation bloc. This would end a system that currently sees the different countries negotiate their own deal with energy giant Gazprom, the government-backed firm which dominates Russia's gas market.

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: The EU needs an energy union to secure independence from Russian gas (Photo: wikipedia)

Meanwhile, "solidarity mechanisms" between EU countries would kick into action if countries were threatened with being cut off from gas supplies.

The question of energy independence, which was already one of particular concern to the EU's eastern European countries, many of whom complain that they are overcharged by Gazprom, has become more prominent as a result of the ongoing Ukraine crisis.

Last month, Russia doubled the price of the energy it sells to Kiev, increasing the pressure on the already cash-strapped government in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Baltic country Lithuania is suing Gazprom, arguing that it pays 35 percent more for its gas than Germany.

Gazprom is currently subject to a probe by the European Commission's competition department over its dealings with eight EU countries, including Lithuania, and could face a multi-million euro fine for abusing its position as the dominant force in the gas market.

"Today, at least 10 EU member states depend on a single supplier - Gazprom - for more than half of their consumption," noted Tusk.

However, Tusk's view is not shared by the bloc's energy commissioner, Gunther Oettinger who has stated that gas deals between EU countries and Russia will not be affected even if economic sanctions are imposed on Moscow because of its role in destabilising Ukraine.

"From my many talks with Gazprom, my impression is that our Russian partners will fulfill their contractual obligations and want to supply the gas," Oettinger told a German Sunday newspaper.

"I am against scaling back or even cutting our gas links with Russia in the coming years," he added.

Tusk also calls for EU countries to be allowed to exploit existing supplies of fossil fuels and the so-far untapped resources of shale gas.

Poland has been one of the most enthusiastic countries about shale gas exploration. However, uncertainty about the volume of gas deposits on European soil and public disquiet about the practice of hydraulic fracturing - needed to access the gas - means that Europe has not seen anything approaching the shale gas boom that has transformed the US energy market.

"No nation should be forced to extract minerals but none should be prevented from doing so - as long as it is done in a sustainable way," Tusk said.

Data published by EU statistics office Eurostat's indicates that imported gas accounted for 65.8 percent in 2012 up from 63.4 percent in 2009. Of this, Russian gas accounts for 30 percent, up from 22 percent in 2010.

Most European energy policy making is currently in the hands of national governments.

Analysis

Austrian far-right: beaten, but not defeated

Far-right candidate Norbert Hofer's loss to Green-backed Alexander Van der Bellen sent relief across Europe, but his party is still in a good position to head a government in the future.

News in Brief

  1. Idea of road transport agency gains momentum among MEPs
  2. EU dismisses euro crisis risk after Italian referendum
  3. Italy result poses no risk to the EU, Sapin says
  4. EU asked to clarify links to Iran executions
  5. Italian economy minister tipped as caretaker PM
  6. EU tells US tech giants to act faster against hate speech
  7. Iceland's Pirates in bid to form government
  8. Danes are the happiest workers, study says

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEJC President Breathes Sigh of Relief Over Result of Austrian Presidential Election
  2. CESICESI Congress Focuses on Future of Work, Public Services and Digitalisation
  3. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAustrian Association for Betting and Gambling Joins EGBA
  4. ACCAWomen of Europe Awards: Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  5. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  6. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  7. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First
  8. MIRAIA New Vision on Clean Tech: Balancing Energy Efficiency, Climate Change and Costs
  9. World VisionChildren Cannot Wait! 7 Priority Actions to Protect all Refugee and Migrant Children
  10. ANCI LazioRegio-Mob Project Delivers Analysis of Transport and Mobility in Rome
  11. SDG Watch EuropeCivil Society Disappointed by the Commission's Plans for Sustainable Development Goals
  12. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhD Positions Open – The Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU (PLATO)