European Union officials wrapped up their two-day meeting in Versailles, France on Friday, but they didn’t come to a consensus on a very important question:
When would the EU be able to stop relying so much on Russian energy?
Bringing War Back to the Continent
According to a joint statement released Friday evening, EU leaders were vehement in their denunciation of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his country’s incursion into Ukraine.
They claimed this attack “brought war back to Europe” and was causing indescribable suffering to the Ukrainian people.
— Reuters (@Reuters) March 10, 2022
They also said they would cut back on buying natural gas, crude oil, and coal from Russia as quickly as possible.
However, after two days of intensive debates over the future of Ukraine, as well as the EU’s own reliance on Russia, leaders were unable to agree on a specific date for when the transition would take place.
Recently, the EU announced a plan to transition out of two-thirds of its Russian gas purchases by the end of this year and eventually cut out all purchases of Russian fuel supplies well before 2030, according to Reuters.
This Thursday, European Commission Head Ursula von der Leyen urged the group to agree to a specific timetable of 2027 for the cessation of imports from the United States.
A historic night at Versailles. After five hours of heated discussions EU leaders said yes to Ukrainian eurointegration. The process started. Now it is up to us and Ukrainians to accomplish it fast. Heroic Ukrainian nation deserves to know that they are welcome in EU.
— Gitanas Nausėda (@GitanasNauseda) March 11, 2022
Rather, members took even more time to make their choice, requesting on Friday that Brussels provide a plan by the end of the month.
The hesitation comes at a time when Europe is attempting to broaden its own supply of gas and swiftly accelerate renewable energy development.
This is in order to break away from its links with Russia, which produces 40 percent of the EU’s energy supplies and around 25 percent of its oil.
Advocating Gas Partnership
According to draft papers issued by the EU Commission earlier this week, leaders have advocated seeking out more liquefied natural gas partnerships.
They’re also supportive of speeding up the installation of renewable gas, renewable power, and other energy-saving initiatives to replace their reliance on natural gas.
While all of Europe’s leaders are eager to break away from their reliance on Russia, some are more hesitant than others to commit to an arbitrary deadline for gaining independence from the country’s oil and gas supplies.
This is going to be a hard job because some countries in the EU, like Germany and Italy, are very dependent on Russian energy. This makes it even more difficult to get the EU off of it.
Sanna Marin, the Finnish prime minister, spoke to the media before the meeting in Versailles, saying, “It’s a really tough position because, on the one end, we have these financial penalties that are extremely difficult to comply with.”
“Then, on the other hand, we are helping and actually subsidizing Russia’s war by importing oil and gas, as well as other fossil fuel extraction from Russia.”
According to the leader, fossil fuels originating from Russia must be phased out as quickly as feasible.