Wednesday

8th Feb 2023

Leaked paper: EU wants 'guaranteed' access to US oil and gas

  • Gas facility in Ohio, US (Photo: Bilfinger SE)

The EU wants the US to lift its restrictions on exporting gas and crude oil as part of ongoing trade talks, according to a leaked European Commission document.

The strategy paper by the EU executive, obtained by the Washington Post, calls for “a legally binding commitment … guaranteeing the free export of crude oil and gas resources”.

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

EU and US trade officials will hold their sixth round of talks on an ambitious Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) in Brussels next week, which officials argue could be worth €100 billion per year, equivalent to an additional 0.5 percent of EU GDP.

Although a trade deal, which negotiators hope to finalise in 2015, would probably scrap most of the remaining tariff barriers between the two blocs, the real value of an agreement would lie in harmonising regulation and sharing raw materials.

Including a chapter on energy in the deal is a key priority of EU officials. The leaked paper argues that “it should not be difficult to establish a chapter with rules on trade and investment in energy and raw materials.”

At the top of the EU’s demands is for Washington to scrap its requirement to review whether exports are in the public interest before approving any foreign sales, “transforming any mandatory and non-automatic export licensing procedure into a process by which licenses for exports to the EU are granted automatically and expeditiously”.

The EU is anxious to reduce its reliance on Russian gas and oil imports, fears which have been heightened by the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

It has also long-stated its wish to have easy access to the abundance of US natural gas and crude oil created by the country’s recent shale boom.

A number of EU countries have large deposits of shale gas in their own soil, but most have so far been reluctant to start exploiting it because of environmental concerns about the fracking process which extracts the fossil fuels.

“The current crisis in Ukraine confirms the delicate situation faced by the EU with regard to energy dependence,” the paper notes.

But exporting natural gas could push up prices for ordinary Americans and businesses, who have benefited from a 50 percent fall in energy prices over the past five years, and US negotiators have so far refused to drop their restrictions.

The Commission paper acknowledges the US’s reticence, conceding that “the US has also been hesitant to discuss a solution for US export restrictions on natural gas and crude oil in the TTIP”.

“We have only noticed some limited opening on the US side … a clear agreement to discuss a comprehensive chapter on energy and raw materials is still lacking,” it adds.

Environmental campaigners were swift to denounce the EU plans.

In a statement on Tuesday (8 July), Natacha Cingotti, a spokesperson for Friends of the Earth, accused the bloc of attempting to “trade away regulations that protect us from dangerous climate change”.

For her part, Ilana Solomon, a director of the Sierra Club, a US-based NGO, commented that “the EU wants a free pass to import dirty fossil fuels from the US”.

Opinion

Wales' message to Europe: 'We'll be back'

The scars of Brexit have left their mark in communities across Wales. The Menai mussel industry has experienced a sharp decline having once been a staple in fish counters and restaurants across Europe; its business model wrecked by post-Brexit rules.

Column

Why Europe's interminable compromises are a virtue

All member states complain about European compromises, each for their own reasons. Nevertheless, these decisions tend to be robust precisely because there is enough in them for everybody. And nobody wants to start negotiating all over again for another deal.

Latest News

  1. Polish MEP also went on freelance Azerbaijan trip
  2. Why Europe's interminable compromises are a virtue
  3. Wales' message to Europe: 'We'll be back'
  4. MEPs to vote on risky 'hydrogen for home heating' rule
  5. The man who won't stop filing info requests until every EU doc is public
  6. EU hands Libya coast guard boats ahead of migration summit
  7. Eleven suicides daily — Spain's not-so-silent pandemic
  8. The return of Lula means now is the time for EU-Mercosur deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWWEU Social Dialogue review – publication of the European Commission package and joint statement of ETUFs
  2. Oxfam InternationalPan Africa Program Progress Report 2022 - Post Covid and Beyond
  3. WWFWWF Living Planet Report
  4. EFBWWEFBWW Executive Committee report on major abuses, labour crime and subcontracting
  5. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  6. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  2. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us