Globalization is certainly at the heart of what it means to become a trading partner with another country. I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine. But, what happens when the itching continues or the scratcher starts scratching himself in an unlikely place rather than where he’s supposed to? What happens is that the scratchee ends up being left high and dry and perhaps the only good thing that will come out of the Russian gun-toting Vladimir Putin’s veiled annexation of Crimea is that the EU might actually realize that they are energy-dependent. They have made their own bed and they’ll have to lie in it now, but they should be thinking about how to get around it by becoming more fuel efficient and less dependent on the Russians for gas. That’s if there is still time left.
Can Russia be trusted to deliver the gas to the EU when France is dependent by 15% on its fuel needs? Yes, even France (which prides itself on almost self-sufficient energy due to nuclear power) needs the Russians. But Germany is now getting double that amount from its Russian neighbor. Poland depends on Russian gas to the tune of 60% of its energy imports! Overall Russia provides the EU with 25% of energy needs in natural gas. The EU import almost 50% of its energy from a country outside the European Union today.
Questions were already being raised just after the Russian-Ukrainian crisis of 2006 and they are still being asked. But, complacency and the status quo took the place of those questions regarding Russian dependency and whether or not the Russian Federation could be trusted to provide that energy under all circumstances.
Back in 2006 80% of the gas that the EU needed traveled through the pipes that went across Ukrainian soil. The Ukrainians were siphoning off the gas that was destined for the EU prior to the outbreak of the 2006dispute and using it for domestic purposes. The EU should have planned there and then alternative measures to deal with future problems. Today there have been new gasoducts that have been built and only 40% of the EU’s gas travels through Ukrainian soil today.
The future says that with the reduction in the oil reserves of the North Sea, the EU may well become dependent to the tune of 80% on natural gas from Russia unless it does something to halt that. The EU will be a lightweight ready to be knocked out by Russia if it doesn’t manage to avoid that by finding alternatives to relying on the natural gas of the Russian Federation.
But, the EU doesn’t even have a common energy policy that negotiates the price of that natural gas. It’s up to each state to do so independently. Are they really living in the 21st century with the knowledge that the bigger you are the more clout you have?
Anyhow, the Russians have realized that they will need to get in to the EU via another means if the EU finally manages to get its act together. It was announced at the start of February that Gazprom was bidding for gas power stations in the north of France. The same thing has already happened in Belgium in 2013 and also in the UK. At least, the Russian Federation is already considering that it needs to back itself up in the event that the EU decides to try to get out of its clutches where energy is concerned. The EU machine took (as usual) far too long to get its act together and to start the wheels in motion and now it might just be too late.
At least if the EU can’t get energy-independence immediately it needs to think about planning its future carefully. There’s hope if they are actually thinking about it already that in decades to come they might be able to go it alone. That’s not going to happen quickly, but unless they invest the money in research and energy development, they will be living in the dark with the candles praying for Vladimir to turn the switch back on and open the pipes again.
Putin has them where it hurts and they know it.
Originally posted: EU Must Have Energy-Independence