Russian gas, oil, coal imports, EU to phase out – leaders’ draft
BRUSSELS, March 7 (Reuters) – European Union leaders will agree at a summit this week to phase out the EU dependency on imports of Russian gas, oil and coal, a draft statement showed, marking a turning point in its policy towards Moscow prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
EU leaders will meet in Versailles on Thursday and Friday to discuss boosting their joint defence capability and Ukraine’s bid to become a member of the 27-nation bloc.
Burned by the experience of supply shortages in microchips and pharmaceuticals during the COVID-19 pandemic, the leaders will also discuss how to make the EU more strategically independent of international suppliers in these sectors and food.
“We agreed to phase out our dependency on Russian gas, oil and coal imports,” the draft statement of the leaders, seen by Reuters, said.
The task will be tough, however, because the EU buys from Russia 45% of its imported gas, around a third of its oil and nearly half of its coal. This makes the bloc vulnerable should Russia decide to retaliate for EU policies by curbing exports.
The decision marks a turning point because only last year Germany was still pushing ahead to get the Russian Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline operational while Italy, Austria or Hungary – among the EU states most highly dependent on Russian energy supply – were in no rush to seek alternatives.
But the Russian invasion of Ukraine changed everything, the leaders said.
“Russia’s war of aggression constitutes a tectonic shift in European history,” the leaders draft statement said.
“Confronted with growing instability, strategic competition and security threats, we decided to take more responsibility for our security and take further decisive steps towards building our European sovereignty, reducing our dependencies and designing a new growth and investment model for 2030,” it said.