Wednesday

20th Feb 2019

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.

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: 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.

Focus

Poland keen on economic post in EU commission

Amid speculation about whether the Polish FM will become the EU's next head of diplomacy, Warsaw is more keen on an economically weightier post in the next EU commission.

Opinion

Massive EU gas investment a mistake

Europe's massive investment plan – some €200 billion – in gas-related infrastructure is a huge misstep that does not address the challenge of Europe's energy demands or climate change commitments.

Stakeholder

What does Poland (really) want from the 2030 package?

Marek Woszczyk, CEO of PGE, Poland's largest utility, and President of the Polish Electricity Association explains why Poland is dragging its feet on the European Union's 2030 climate-energy package.

EU says Hungary's anti-Juncker campaign is fake news

The European Commission has branded the latest campaign by the Hungarian government as 'fake news', after Orban's government accused Juncker of pressing ahead with migration proposals that threaten the country's security.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  2. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  3. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  5. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  7. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  8. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups

Latest News

  1. EU commission appeals Dieselgate ruling
  2. 'No burning crisis' on migrant arrivals, EU agency says
  3. 'No evidence' ECB bond-buying helped euro economy
  4. Juncker: Orban should leave Europe's centre-right
  5. College of Europe alumni ask rector to cut Saudi ties
  6. EU says Hungary's anti-Juncker campaign is fake news
  7. Trump right for once: Europe should take back foreign fighters
  8. EU should clarify rules for plant burgers and lab meat

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us