The plan discussed by the European Union to end its Russian energy dependence
The European Union wants to put an end to its dependence on Russian oil and gas as soon as possible. Whatever it takes. After Vladimir Putin cut off gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland last week, EU energy ministers have been discussing a tough response from Moscow since Monday that would include a new sanctions package for the war in Ukraine.
Brussels wants to hit the Kremlin where it hurts the most: plans to impose an embargo on Russian oil. The impact would be dramatic for Russian coffers: oil sales to Europe cost Moscow about 50,000 million euros a year, according to Eurostat, the European Statistical Office. But there would also be repercussions in the EU: experts warn of a rationing scenario of the next boreal winter if this measure is imposed.
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The Council of EU Energy Ministers meets in the Belgian capital in an extraordinary way. This is the first meeting of the European energy space after Russia cut off its gas supply to Poland and Bulgaria because these two countries they refused to pay in rublesas Moscow has demanded since the start of the war in retaliation for sanctions imposed by the United States and its NATO allies.
“We refused to pay for Russian gas in rubles and Russia cut off our supply, but we are safe,” Poland’s energy minister said on Monday. Anna Moscowarrive at the meeting in Brussels.
In response to this Russian gesture “we call for an immediate embargo on Russian oil and gas. The time has come for oil, then the gas will come,” he added. For Moskwa, “Europe must get rid of dependence on Russian fossil fuels”.
What are the alternatives that the EU manages to get rid of Russian energy dependence
European energy ministers are evaluating emergency plans, community solidarity mechanisms and alternative fuel supply formulas.
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According to the Spanish newspaper The countryAmong the measures mentioned are a common fuel purchasing system copy the scheme used for the purchase of vaccines during the pandemic or a new regulation on the storage of gas proposed by the European Commission which will oblige the reserves to be filled to 80% before next November.
The European oil embargo plan on Moscow: Hungary’s blockages
A possible embargo on Russian oil would be a blow for Moscow. But it would not be free for Europe. The plan could cause fuel cuts and rationing in European capitals. Sources quoted by the Madrid newspaper stress that this situation is considered “more than likely for the coming winter”.
But the project has critics even within the EU. Hungary, ruled by the centre-right Victor Orban, very close to Putin, refuses to join the energy sanctions against Russia. So far, Europe has only approved an embargo against Russian coal.
Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said on television RTL that his country would not approve of measures that jeopardized the supply of oil or gas. A total cut requires the unanimity of the bloc, even if each country could decide on a total disconnection alone.
In this context, the EU is studying a gradual embargo on Russian oil prepare the ground for the future with the search for alternative supplies.
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Meanwhile, several European countries are due to pay new bills for Russian gas on May 20. The risk now is that Moscow will make new gas cuts like the one done to Poland and Bulgaria. The bloc of 27 countries imports around 40% of the gas it consumes from Russia.but some of its countries, notably Hungary and Slovakia, have a higher dependency.