After scrapping Nord Stream 2, Germany has announced the construction of a new LNG

EU leaders to discuss ending the bloc’s dependency on Russian oil and gas

EU leaders to discuss ending the bloc’s dependency on Russian oil and gas

European strategic autonomy will be the topic of a summit held in Versailles at the end of this week

European Union leaders will meet in Versailles on Thursday and Friday to mull over the possibility of ending the bloc’s dependency on Russian gas, oil and coal, as Reuters reported yesterday. According to a draft statement, the summit will focus on strengthening European strategic autonomy in a myriad of sectors that have experienced significant fluctuation over the past couple of years.

These include food production and security, semiconductors, energy, pharmaceuticals and, notably, defence. Furthermore, Europe is reliant on imports in these key sectors and since the start of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine they have proven to pose a vulnerability.

A tectonic shift in the EU-Russia relationship

The European Union imports around 45% of its natural gas from Russia, around a third of its oil and half of its coal. At the same time, Germany, Italy, Austria and Hungary are some of the bloc’s most energy import-dependent countries. Before the Ukrainian invasion started, however, there was little pressure to look for energy alternatives.

Now, notably, despite the swift and decisive sanctions against Russian banks and oligarchs, the energy continues to flow into the EU and as diplomatic relations worsen, the bloc is looking to shake off that strategic dependency.

Phasing out Russian raw material imports

According to Reuters, the draft statement claims that EU leaders have agreed to phase out the dependency on Russian gas, oil and coal. The gap in energy production would be filled by a more diverse mix with the use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and the development of biogas and hydrogen.

Furthermore, Europe would accelerate the development of renewables and connect and synchronise power grids. This sentiment was echoed by Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, in a statement following a meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

He added that the strategy includes targeting new suppliers, speeding up the green transition and setting mandatory gas storage levels across the bloc.

Additionally, after Germany announced scrapping the Nord Stream 2 project, the Federal Government signed a memorandum on the construction of a new LNG terminal in Brunsbüttel, expanding the existing facility.

The path towards strategic autonomy

In terms of microchip production, the draft statement claims that the EU should set a goal to double its current market share by 2030, reaching 20%. This push towards the industries of the future includes 5G technology and the development of artificial intelligence.

At the same time, food security is also a key part of the summit, as leaders want to end Europe’s dependency on imports. Currently, Ukraine alone accounts for 19% of EU wheat imports and 13% of oilseed imports. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Sunday, though, that exports will be limited due to the war.

EU leaders will also discuss the issue of defence, as many countries have announced they will up their spending in the sector. The draft statement also stated that the bloc will work to identify strategic shortfalls and develop defence capabilities within the union.  



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