From the Energy Union, to (possibly) better Europe?

Karol Panas

A very interesting matter has been adressed lately in the European Union. The Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk decided to take voice and raise the matter of Russia – or to be more precise – the matter of Gazprom – the largest extractor of natural gas and one of the largest companies in the world. According to him, the European Union should become free from Russian gas suppy and create it’s own „Energy Union” to „secure its supply and reduce its dependence on Russian gas”. The blueprint he submitted, can be found in the latest Financial Times (22nd April) and as it says, it would establish a single European Union body that would buy gas for the Member States.

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As we can assume from Tusk’s speech, European Union is annoyed of the constant increase in gas prices imposed by Russians. What is more, there are countries who because of this increase feel deceived. A good example of it is Lithuania who not so long ago sued Russian Gazprom explaining that they are paying more or less 35% more then Germans. Also – last month, because of well known Crimean Crisis, already poor Ukrainians living in Kiev suffered from increase of gas price (the Ukraine unpaid gas bills to Russia in 2014 stood at about $1,7 billions). Taking those facts into account, we can clearly see – the desire for change is a major step to avoid their overpriced gas supply. Here it is worth to add that even though every country is negotiating to reach some kind of consensus on the gas price, not everyone of those will be accepted. Because of this this, as we saw in the example above, some countries are paying riddiculously higher prices than the others.

Gazprom is also under surveilance of European Commission since 4th September 2012 on the grounds of „abusing its dominant market position in upsteam gas supply markets”. Right now at least 10 of European Union countries are dependant on Russians on this matter and some of them (and also other European counties) does not even have a chance to change the gas supplier (for example Gazprom owns (or co-owns) 100% of pipes in Moldova).

Of course, like it is also – there are supporters and opponents of a given plan or idea. In this case the opponent was the bloc’s energy commissioner – Gunther Oettinger. In his answer he stated that „gas deals between EU countries and Russia will not be affected even if economic sanctions are imposed on Moscow because of its role in destabilising Ukraine”. He also added that he is against scaling back or even cutting the gas links with Russia in the uncoming years.

Talking about gas, we certainly do not want to forget about the shale gas. Even Donald Tusk, in his blueprint gave a special call to the European Union countries, to as quoted „exploit existing supplies of fossil fuels and the so-far untapped resources of shale gas”. However this raises a very important question – will this be enough to become free from the Gazprom ? In my opinion, no. What is more we still do not really know about the scale of supplies of the shale gas in Europe, so right now it is hard to discuss on this matter. Nevertheless – it is still an option.

To conclude, the idea presented by the Polish Prime Minister is cerainly a good idea to start. As a Pole, I am really glad to know that some major steps are being made – even on such inicial steps as ‚idea’. I really hope to see it blooming in the nearest future – hopefully into something more then just a sketch.

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