EU commits to phasing out dependency on Russian fossil fuels

Mar 8, 2022, 7:08 AM | Updated: 4:41 pm

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union is seeking to fully phase out its reliance on Russian energy “well before 2030” to ensure the 27-nation bloc no longer faces difficult decisions about hurting their own economies in geopolitical crises like the invasion of Ukraine.

The EU leaders meet in Versailles outside Paris for a two-day summit starting Thursday and will be working on ways to “phase out our dependency on Russian gas, oil and coal imports,” said a draft of the summit declaration seen by The Associated Press.

The European Commission unveiled proposals Tuesday to make that happen, including diversifying natural gas supplies and speeding up renewable energy development. The EU’s executive arm said its measures “can reduce EU demand for Russian gas by two-thirds before the end of the year.”

“We must become independent from Russian oil, coal and gas,” commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement. “We simply cannot rely on a supplier who explicitly threatens us.”

The EU imports 90% of the natural gas used to generate electricity, heat homes and supply industry, with Russia supplying almost 40% of EU gas and a quarter of its oil.

For well over a decade, the EU has felt increasingly stuck when it came to addressing its deteriorating relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but the prospect of leaving tens of millions shivering in the winter cold because of a dearth of fossil fuels or sky-high prices limited the political options.

The invasion of Ukraine was a gamechanger, and within two weeks, the EU has rallied to prepare a more robust energy policy. But it still hasn’t signed on to sanctioning Russian energy, even with the U.S. and the United Kingdom announcing bans on Russian oil imports.

Already committed to the rapid development of renewables because of climate change, they will accelerate the process now to buttress their political independence, too.

The EU needs to “dash into renewable energy at lightning speed,” said Frans Timmermans, commission executive vice president in charge of its effort to reduce climate emissions.

A key partner will be Germany, which is among many EU nations exposed to Russian clout over energy supplies.

“We know, and we have to admit it, that we have maneuvered ourselves into an ever-greater dependency on fossil energy imports from Russia in the last 20 years,” said Germany’s economy minister, Robert Habeck. “All the German government’s, the country’s, efforts are going toward reducing this dependency as quickly as possible and then using the energy policy room for maneuver we have gained, including in security policy terms.”

Energy prices have been high for months because of low supplies, driving up the cost of everything from utility bills to food as businesses pass along their costs to customers.

Besides ramping up renewables, the EU’s commission said Europe could diversify its energy supply by purchasing more liquefied natural gas brought by ship instead of through pipelines from Russia and by getting more pipeline imports from non-Russian suppliers. Those could include Norway and Azerbaijan.

Larger volumes of biomethane from organic sources such as agricultural waste and production of hydrogen for fuel cells could contribute, too.

The EU commission also said it would seek legislation to require that underground gas reserves be filled to at least 90% by the start of the winter heating season. Failure to do that this year led to extremely high gas prices.

The commission said it also was looking at more measures to help consumers, such as temporary limits to electricity prices.

Execution of much of the EU’s plan rests with national governments that all have different energy mixes and levels of vulnerability to a gas embargo or cutoff. Germany, Italy and several Eastern European EU members are most dependent.

Europe’s pipeline system is not set up so that shipments of liquefied gas can easily reach all corners of the continent. While liquefied gas shipments have increased, energy analysts say a total cutoff of Russian gas could only be overcome by forced reduction in gas use, first by industrial users.


AP writer Geir Moulson contributed from Berlin.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Neighbors pray for the brothers Yovani and Jair Valencia Olivares and their cousin Misael Olivares ...
Associated Press

In a small village, prayers and hope for missing migrants

SAN MARCOS ATEXQUILAPAN, Mexico (AP) — Clutching rosaries, residents of this mountain village stared at photographs of three of their own atop the altar at the local church, praying that teenagers Jair, Yovani and Misael were not among the 53 migrants who perished inside a stifling trailer in Texas. The wait for confirmation has been […]
8 hours ago
GM Logo Gradient (01-28-21) This image provided by General Motors shows the GM Logo. The global sho...
Associated Press

Chip shortage leaves 95K GM vehicles incomplete in storage

DETROIT (AP) — The global shortage of computer chips forced General Motors to build 95,000 vehicles without certain components during the second quarter. The Detroit automaker said in a regulatory filing Friday that most of the incomplete vehicles were built in June, and that it expects most of them to be finished and sold to […]
8 hours ago
Associated Press

Judge won’t dismiss parent lawsuit in Gabby Petito slaying

SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) — A Florida judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit in which the parents of Gabby Petito claim that Brian Laundrie told his parents he had killed her before he returned home alone from their western trip. The decision Thursday by Sarasota County Circuit Judge Hunter Carroll means the lawsuit can proceed […]
8 hours ago
FILE - This 1997 image provided by the CDC during an investigation into an outbreak of monkeypox, w...
Associated Press

African officials: Monkeypox spread is already an emergency

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Health authorities in Africa say they are treating the expanding monkeypox outbreak there as an emergency and are calling on rich countries to share the world’s limited supply of vaccines in an effort to avoid the glaring equity problems seen during the COVID-19 pandemic. Monkeypox has been sickening people in parts […]
8 hours ago
FILE - This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Pr...
Associated Press

WHO: Monkeypox cases in Europe have tripled in last 2 weeks

LONDON (AP) — The World Health Organization’s Europe chief warned Friday that monkeypox cases in the region have tripled in the last two weeks and urged countries to do more to ensure the previously rare disease does not become entrenched on the continent. Dr. Hans Kluge said in a statement that increased efforts were needed […]
8 hours ago
An Amtrak train which derailed after striking a dump truck is seen beyond a corn field Monday, June...
Associated Press

Lawsuits filed days after deadly Missouri Amtrak crash

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The first lawsuits have been filed only days after an Amtrak train collision and derailment in rural Missouri that left four people dead and injured up to 150 others. Amtrak and BNSF Railway Co. filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against the concrete contracting company that owns the dump truck hit […]
8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
Christina O’Haver

BE FAST to spot a stroke

Every 40 seconds—that’s how often someone has a stroke in the United States. It’s the fifth leading cause of death among Americans, with someone dying of a stroke every 3.5 minutes.
EU commits to phasing out dependency on Russian fossil fuels