27th Oct 2016

EU warning system to tackle potential energy shocks

  • Russia accounts for 25 percent of oil and gas imports to the EU (Photo: wikipedia)

In response to a sudden cut in oil supplies coming from Russia earlier this year, the European Union is setting up an early-warning system for potential gas and oil supply shocks.

Brussels has announced it will put in place a network of energy security correspondents tasked to monitor, assess and exchange information about brewing crises that could affect the 27-nation bloc.

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It will be "a crucial part of the union's efforts to have a credible long-term energy policy", EU external relations commissioner Benita Ferrrero-Waldner said, according to press reports.

The network – to be discussed at the upcoming EU-Russia summit in Samara (17-18 May) – will use services of the EU's 130 delegations worldwide, EU governments, energy advisory panels and the European commission' external relations crisis room.

Energy security has topped the EU's political agenda since January, when Moscow closed the Druzhba oil pipeline supplying Eastern and Western Europe through Belarus because of a price row with Minsk.

The oil disruption – following a similar unilateral move in 2006 involving Ukraine – affected several EU states, including Germany, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

The row also prompted the EU's shift towards renewable sources of energy, such as solar, wind or biomass, which are believed will decrease the bloc's dependency on external energy sources as well as help combat climate change.

In March, the 27 member states legally bound themselves to use 20 percent renewable energy and cut CO2 emissions by 20 percent by 2020.

For the European Union, Russia is the single most important external supplier of energy, as a quarter of the bloc's gas as well as a quarter of its oil originates from the vast country.

According to Brussels, the dependency is likely to increase, with forecasts saying the EU will import 70 percent of its energy by 2030.

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