Thursday

7th Jul 2022

MEPs call for a more forceful EU response to Kremlin gas cut

  • Gazprom HQ in Moscow: the Russian energy giant in April halted gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland after they declined to pay for gas in roubles (Photo: Mitya Aleshkovsky)
Listen to article

With the Kremlin having cut off gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria for three weeks, MEPs have called on the European Commission to come up with a stronger response and set aside funds to help countries affected by Russian energy aggression.

"Putin will cut off supply to other member states. It is just a matter of time," Green MEP Bronis Ropé told energy commissioner Kadri Simson on Thursday (19 May).

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

"We should show solidarity and think about financing," he added.

Simson was in the EU parliament to present the commission's RePowerEU strategy. The plan sets aside €210bn worth of investment to completely quit Russian gas by 2027 and replace it with renewables and overseas liquified natural gas.

According to the commissioner, "both Poland and Bulgaria were not impacted" by the Russian gas cutoff, which she said was proof of "the important work we have done in building solidarity and the European gas infrastructure."

But some MEPs said Russian aggression had to be addressed more forcefully.

"RepPowerEU is a good and courageous but mid-term initiative. Cutting off gas to Poland and Bulgaria is an act of aggression that needs an immediate response," MEP Radan Kanev from the centre-right European People's Party said, adding that. "Finland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are under threat now, so we must react."

On Wednesday, Finnish state-owned gas company Gasum said it expected Russia to cut gas exports to the country "by the weekend."

Finnish households barely use gas but industry is heavily dependent on it, and the country lacks easy access to alternatives.

Both Poland and Bulgaria met the Russian gas cut with defiance. Poland intends to replace Russian gas with imports from Norway via the Baltic Pipeline. Bulgarian prime minister Kiril Petkov has said the country has secured gas "for the sufficiently foreseeable period."

But MEPs said that some member states would be hit worse than others and want the EU to purchase energy jointly.

"I would like to call on the commission to immediately create a mechanism to purchase LNG together as we did for the vaccine, Socialist & Democrats lawmaker Marek Pawel Balt said. "Together, we can get lower prices."

Simson said RePowerEU proposes to develop a voluntary joint-purchasing mechanism.

Some MEPs, however, doubted the level of solidarity among member states.

"We want to stop the flow of money to Russia. That is why the embargoes say we should refuse to pay for gas with roubles, but some are simply paying up in roubles. What happened to our values?," European People's Party MEP Eva Maydell said.

EU executive vice president Frans Timmermans said on Wednesday that "paying in roubles is in violation of the sanctions and the contracts".

But Italian energy giant Eni has defied EU guidelines and announced on Tuesday that it has started procedures to open accounts roubles with Gazprombank.

"Since the start of the war, Greece increased Russian imports by 69 percent. It is ridiculous. Institutions are showing the way. Unfortunately, many governments are not following their example," Renew Europe lawmaker Georgios Kyrtsos said.

Commission grilled on RePowerEU €210bn pricetag

EU leaders unveiled a €210bn strategy aiming to cut Russian gas out of the European energy equation before 2027 and by two-thirds before the end of the year — but questions remain on how it is to be financed.

Opinion

Nato's Madrid summit — key takeaways

For the most part Nato and its 30 leaders rose to the occasion — but it wasn't without room for improvement. The lesson remains that Nato still doesn't know how or want to hold allies accountable for disruptive behaviour.

Opinion

If Russia collapses — which states will break away?

Increasingly, analysts — both inside and outside of Russia — are considering the possibility of the Russian Federation's collapse into a series of independent states. Who are the most likely candidates for secession in Russia's south, east, and centre?

News in Brief

  1. Danish ministers no longer allowed to delete text messages
  2. Report: British PM Johnson to resign today
  3. British PM defiant amid spate of resignations
  4. France says EU fiscal discipline rules 'obsolete'
  5. Russia claims untouchable status due to nuclear arsenal
  6. Catalan MEPs lose EU court case over recognition
  7. 39 arrested in migrant-smuggling dragnet
  8. France to nationalise nuclear operator amid energy crisis

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  4. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  6. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022

Latest News

  1. Russia influence debate leads to MEP mudslinging
  2. Johnson quits, leaving Brexit headaches to successor
  3. Is Orban holding out an olive branch to EPP?
  4. EU should freeze all EU funds to Hungary, says study
  5. Legal action looms after MEPs back 'green' nuclear and gas
  6. EU readies for 'complete Russian gas cut-off', von der Leyen says
  7. Rising prices expose lack of coherent EU response
  8. Keeping gas as 'green' in taxonomy vote only helps Russia

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us