Fifteen days after meeting in the Palace of Versailles, the European Heads of State and Government will meet again, on Thursday 24 and Friday 25 March, in Brussels, at a summit that will be devoted largely to the war in Ukraine and its multiple consequences for the European Union (EU). The issue of energy will occupy a large part of the discussions, while the Sky-high prices weigh on recovery post-Covid and that the Twenty-seven seek to reduce their dependence on Russia, where a large part of their imports of gas (40%), oil (25%) and coal (46%) come from.
If, at this stage, the Europeans are not yet ready to decree an embargo on Russian oil and gas, they cannot rule out this hypothesis. Nor can they be sure that Moscow will not decide, at one time or another, to cut off their gas taps. At Versailles, therefore, they agreed “gradually get rid of [leur] dependence on imports of Russian gas, oil and coal, as soon as possible”read your joint statement.
Between their reserves and the gas purchases that they have contracted in recent weeks from countries other than Russia, the Twenty-seven claim to have enough to finish the winter period without too many difficulties. On the other hand, they still cannot do without Russian energy next winter. In this context, the European Commission should make several proposals on Wednesday, so that they prepare for it.
fill the tanks
This should present a draft directive, which the Twenty-seven will debate on Thursday and Friday, in order to force them to fill their gasoline tanks to 90% on 1is November, before each winter period. Today, the storage capacities of Europeans are only used up to 26%. Some Member States, such as France, have storage capacities, others do not, but they should also, analyzes the Commission, participate in the common effort.
The community executive should also propose to the Twenty-seven to buy gas together, as they did for the Covid-19 vaccines. An option that Spain had mentioned in the fall of 2021, when energy prices had begun to skyrocket, but which, at the time, had not found much enthusiasm among its partners.
Today, although many details remain to be fine-tuned, minds are more mature and this track now seems to have a consensus. The draft Council conclusions of Thursday and Friday also indicate that the Member States and the Commission “work together in the common purchase of natural gas, liquefied natural gas and hydrogen”.
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