European leaders fail to set a date to end energy dependence on Russia – POLITICO

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European leaders want to end Russian energy imports that help finance the war in Ukraine, but not yet.

In a statement issued on Friday following a summit in Versailles, France, they said the countries would “gradually eliminate our dependence on Russian imports of gas, oil and coal as soon as possible.”

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has “brought war back to Europe”, the 27 leaders said. In response, they pledged to strengthen economic independence, which means reducing imports of Russian natural gas, oil and coal. Last year, energy imports from Russia amounted to 99 billion euros, the continent’s largest link with Moscow.

On Thursday, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen proposed 2027 as a firm end date. This followed a Commission proposal earlier this week to cut Russia’s energy dependency by two-thirds by the end of this year and bring it down to zero “well before” 2030.

But national leaders have been reluctant to agree a concrete date this week. Instead, they asked Brussels to present a plan in May. The Commission “would present a proposal to phase out our dependence on Russian gas, oil and coal by 2027, backed by the necessary national and European resources,” von der Leyen said after the summit.

The United States this week ended all Russian energy imports, but it’s a tougher decision for many European countries to cut off the flow of gas pipelines, tankers and railcars full of coal.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz rejected this option earlier this week, saying that “Europe’s energy supply for heat generation, mobility, power supply and industry cannot be assured at the moment. in any other way”. Germany is the EU’s biggest importer of Russian energy, sending more than 40 billion euros to Moscow last year.

Berlin’s position has been echoed by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, the Kremlin’s closest European ally, who has spent much of the week arguing that a ban would endanger his country’s energy supply.

“There will be no oil and gas sanctions, which means Hungary’s energy supply is guaranteed for the next period,” Orbán said in a statement. video statement made public on Friday morning.

Other countries, led by Poland and the Baltic states, lobbied to end Russian energy imports immediately.

This corresponds to Kiev’s demands.

“The ultimate goal is energy independence from Russian resources. And the decision to impose an embargo on Russian oil is one of the steps towards its achievement,” said the Minister of Ukraine. Energy, German Galushchenko, adding that the Russian invasion was causing a “revolution” in the world. energy because Moscow is cut off from large parts of the market.

“The system of energy consumption and the energy market in general, which existed before the war, will no longer exist. This system is going to change globally,” he said. “However, unfortunately, this revolution is taking place at the cost of the lives of Ukrainians.”

The effort to cut Russian power comes just as the EU is reeling from the impact of months of soaring natural gas prices – which has led some countries, particularly Spain and France , to demand reforms of the bloc’s electricity market rules. Von der Leyen said the Commission would present options for doing so in mid-May.

Leaders also asked the Commission to come up with a plan to ensure security of supply and affordable energy prices for next winter. It will be discussed at the next European Council summit on March 24.

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