Time for an EU energy union, says Polish PM

BRUSSELS – The European Union must create an energy union to secure its supply and reduce its dependence on Russian gas, Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk has said.

Tusk’s energy blueprint, set out in an article in the Financial Times on Tuesday (22 April), would establish a single European body that would buy gas for the whole 28-nation bloc. This would end a system that currently sees the different countries negotiate their own deal with energy giant Gazprom, the government-backed firm which dominates Russia’s gas market.

Meanwhile, “solidarity mechanisms” between EU countries would kick into action if countries were threatened with being cut off from gas supplies.

The question of energy independence, which was already one of particular concern to the EU’s eastern European countries, many of whom complain that they are overcharged by Gazprom, has become more prominent as a result of the ongoing Ukraine crisis.

Last month, Russia doubled the price of the energy it sells to Kiev, increasing the pressure on the already cash-strapped government in Ukraine.

“Today, at least 10 EU member states depend on a single supplier – Gazprom – for more than half of their consumption,” noted Tusk.

Tusk also calls for EU countries to be allowed to exploit existing supplies of fossil fuels and the so-far untapped resources of shale gas.

Poland has been one of the most enthusiastic countries about shale gas exploration. However, uncertainty about the volume of gas deposits on European soil and public disquiet about the practice of hydraulic fracturing – needed to access the gas – means that Europe has not seen anything approaching the shale gas boom that has transformed the US energy market.

“No nation should be forced to extract minerals but none should be prevented from doing so – as long as it is done in a sustainable way,” Tusk said.

Full article: Time for an EU energy union, says Polish PM (EU Observer)

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