Thursday

5th Aug 2021

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

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

  • 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.

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.

News in Brief

  1. EU secures deal with Novavax for potential Covid-19 vaccine
  2. France fined €10m for failing to tackle air pollution
  3. Fire near Athens forces thousands to evacuate
  4. EU to Lebanon: 'deliver results' on Beirut blast probe
  5. Belarus opposition leader demands regime end
  6. Croatia's border-monitoring of migrant rights 'falls short'
  7. Court stops Austria's Afghan deportation, as conflict worsens
  8. 'Missing' Belarus exiles group chief found dead in Kyiv

Column

Burkinis and 'soul caps' - policing Olympic women back in fashion

There are no fixed rules. Anyone can criticise, condone and codify women's apparel. The game is inclusive, bringing together an assorted collection of voyeurs, misogynists, racists, bigots, religious fanatics and culture warriors – but also feminists and other equality campaigners.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Italy seeks EU help on migrant boat arrivals
  2. WHO calls for vaccine-booster pause to help poor countries
  3. Romania selling on its jabs, despite low vaccination rates
  4. Cyprus' Varosha is Erdogan's canary in the coalmine
  5. Europe sees drop in Covid-19 cases
  6. Burkinis and 'soul caps' - policing Olympic women back in fashion
  7. Telegram groups lure migrant hopefuls to Lithuania
  8. Third-time lucky for one Syrian grandmother in Denmark

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us