EU aims to cut dependence on Russian gas by two thirds this year – POLITICO

The EU could largely cut its dependence on Russian gas by the end of the year if governments implement a series of emergency measures proposed by the European Commission on Tuesday.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), Russian imports account for 40% of the EU’s gas consumption by 2021. A rapid drop in that means, “We are now protecting our vital interests. ,” said Frans Timmermans, EU Green Deal Director.

He told the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Monday evening that the plan, heavily and rapidly revised in the days since Russian forces invaded Ukraine, could make the EU independent of Russian gas “in the course of time” within a few years”.

“It’s not easy but it’s doable,” he added.

Speaking to reporters ahead of the launch, Timmermans confirmed an earlier report by POLITICO that the package would propose to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy, biofuels and hydrogen.

“Given the fact that the energy market will be tight for the foreseeable future, creating your own energy sources strategically is the smartest and most urgent choice,” he said.

He also said that savings can be achieved by cutting energy use, storing gas this year and looking for new gas sources, adding that the EU is in talks with Egypt, Qatar, ” countries in the northern rim of the Mediterranean”, Australia and the United States are concerned with boosting their supply in the short term.

Last week, the IEA outlined 10 measures the EU could take to cut its dependence on Russia by a third – half of what the Commission had planned.

“We will need to import less than two-thirds of Russian gas by the end of the year, if we take all these measures together,” Timmermans said.

For that to happen, member states need to accelerate their flagship Green Deal policy to cut emissions, which aims to make the bloc’s climate neutral by 2050 – a policy that has already caused tensions. politically straight. Timmermans said the Commission will present its energy proposals at the meeting of EU leaders in France on Thursday and Friday.

Consumers have been swooned by record energy prices, and Timmermans said the Commission will outline measures to cushion the shock, including “guidance on how to set regulated prices at the retail level. We’ll open up new possibilities for state aid, we’ll also provide guidance on temporary generator tax measures, and also show how you can use more [Emission Trading System] revenue. ”

He likens this moment to a pandemic response, when the recovery stimulus ends up underpinning the EU’s climate ambitions.

“Similarly, here the Green Deal is also an answer to the security challenge in the energy sector,” he said.

In a sign of the bloc’s determination to decouple from Russia, Timmermans said a near-term increase in coal could make sense for some countries if combined with accelerated deployment of clean energy. But if any country took advantage of that to open new coal mines, it would be “an extremely stupid choice”, he said.

Timmermans said there is “tension” between the high cost of energy for consumers and the “spike” in revenue for energy companies, something that has led to pressure on a proposal to hit utilities with taxes. profits. “I’m sure the public authorities will want to do something about that,” he said.

Asked whether the EU should consider a Russian oil embargo, a measure being discussed in Washington and London but rejected by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Monday, Timmermans said: “No what is worth discussing. The barbarism that Putin is displaying in Ukraine needs to be addressed definitively, and also the measures that hurt him, even if they can hurt us.”

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