The bloc will look for alternative energy sources, but that won’t happen overnight, promises Josep Borrell
The European Union will get rid of the natural gas supplied by Russia in the coming years, the bloc’s top diplomat promised on Thursday.
Josep Borrell, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, told Television Espanola that EU members had come to the conclusion that they are too dependent on Russian gas.
“First it will be coal, then… oil… but it will take more time to [phase out Russian] gas, because we have to adapt, we can’t go from 40% to 0% overnight,” he said. “And Russia knows that we will stop buying its gas.”
“Russia wants to sell its gas, but not necessarily to usBorrell added, urging EU member states to voluntarily reduce energy consumption so that authorities don’t have to impose mandatory restrictions.
The EU diplomat also said the bloc had already made efforts to cut back on Russian gas. “We have already started saving Russian gas,” he remarked.”A reduction of the average heating temperature in Europe by one degree equals a saving of 6% gas.”
According to Borrell, before the conflict in Ukraine broke out, Europe imported about 40% of its natural gas from Russia, but that figure has now fallen to about 20%.
“We have approved almost everything [sanctions on Russia] that we could have,” he said. “But the situation with the gas is the opposite; the point is not that we don’t want to buy it, the point is that [Russia] can refuse to sell it to us.”
Earlier this week, EU countries agreed to cut their gas use in preparation for a possible complete cessation of supplies from Russia. Under the emergency plan, Member States will voluntarily reduce their natural gas consumption by 15% between August 2022 and the end of March 2023. By adopting this controversial plan, EU members hope it will mitigate the impact if Moscow decides to stop deliveries.
While the plan has sparked some protest within the bloc, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen defended it by saying that the EU “must be prepared for the worst case scenario”, as she described Moscow as “not a reliable partner for Europe’s energy supply.”
EU’s Borrell has ‘no chance’ against Lavrov – Moscow
Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed speculation about Moscow’s intentions to cut off the EU from gas supplies. Despite tense relations between Moscow and Brussels over the Russian military campaign in Ukraine, Gazprom is “ready to pump as much as needed,” but it is the EU that “everything closed by itself,” he said.
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