The European Commission on Tuesday unveiled a plan to reduce the continent’s dependence on Russian hydrocarbon imports.
Brussels on Tuesday presented solutions to cushion the impact of rising energy prices and cut Russian gas imports from the EU by two-thirds this year, ahead of a summit where the twenty-seven are expected to commit to “breaking out of dependence on Russian gas”. hydrocarbons”.
The European Commission will present a legislative proposal by April to set an average storage level of at least 90% by the end of September, to prepare the continent for next winter, with targets for each country, the Commissioner in Kadri announced Simson Energie. The project initially mentioned a level of 80%.
In addition to an increasing use of hydrogen and biomethane, the Commission aims to diversify the EU’s gas supply in all directions by intensifying ongoing discussions with the main producing countries (Norway, United States, Qatar, Algeria) and by better coordinating the use of of terminals and gas pipelines in Europe.
Russia supplies 45% of gas and coal
The EU is also calling for an acceleration of decarbonisation efforts in buildings (better insulation, heating methods, etc.), Brussels estimates.
The measures presented “could cut European demand for Russian gas by two-thirds by the end of the year” and “make the EU independent of Russian hydrocarbons well before 2030,” the European executive assured in a statement. Russia supplies 45% of the EU’s gas and coal imports and 25% of that of oil.
The roadmap will be discussed on Thursday and Friday by the heads of state or government at the twenty-seventh meeting in Versailles (France). According to draft conclusions consulted by AFP, they must commit themselves “to get out of (their) dependence on Russian gas, oil and coal imports”, but without specifying a timetable.
A challenge for countries such as Finland, Slovakia, Hungary or the Czech Republic, which import most of their gas from Russia, or even Germany, which is 55% dependent on Russia for its supplies. Berlin recalled that there was no alternative to getting rid of it “for now”.
The Commission itself calls for a gradual break: “Let us not hurt ourselves more than Putin. We must not destabilize our societies at a time when we must remain united”, the Vice-President acknowledged before MEPs on Monday. of the European executive, Frans Timmermans.
For the time being, Brussels wants to mitigate the impact on household and business accounts by expanding the “toolbox” unveiled in the autumn: a range of measures (price regulation, direct aid, tax reduction, abolition of VAT…) can be taken in the light of of the energy crisis.
Taxing profits of energy companies
In addition to the already relaxed state aid conditions, the Commission will allow states to tax the profits of energy companies generated by the price increases in order to redistribute them, but provided it “does not cause undue distortion of the market”.
The Commission is also considering emergency measures to limit the contagion effect of gas prices on wholesale electricity prices, in particular with a temporary cap on the latter.
On the other hand, if the temporary use of coal is not a “taboo” for countries that want to quickly reduce their imports of Russian gas, it does not “release them from their obligation to” achieve their greenhouse gas reduction targets. therefore need a parallel acceleration of renewable energy, warned Frans Timmermans.