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The European Union unveils its plan to reduce its dependence on Russian gas

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The European Union has announced that it wants to significantly reduce imports of Russian gas from 2022. The European Commission will soon submit a legislative proposal to establish an average level of storage. All this while respecting the climate plan, for the protection of the environment.

Brussels presented solutions on Tuesday to cushion the impact of soaring energy prices and reduce Russian gas imports from the EU by two-thirds this year, before a summit where the Twenty-Seven are expected to commit to ” get out” of dependence on Russian hydrocarbons.

The European Commission will submit by April a legislative proposal to establish an average level of storage of at least 90% by the end of September, in order to prepare the continent for the next winter, with objectives for each country, announced the commissioner at Kadri Simson Energy. The project initially mentioned a level of 80%.

In addition to increased use of hydrogen and biomethane, the Commission wants to diversify the EU’s gas supplies in all directions, by intensifying the talks already under way with the main producing countries (Norway, United States, Qatar, Algeria), while by better coordinating the use of terminals and gas pipelines in Europe.

An objective to be achieved “well before 2030”

The EU also calls for accelerating decarbonization efforts in buildings (better insulation, heating methods, etc.) and in industry, provided for in its climate plan for 2030: “its full implementation would reduce energy consumption. annual European gas rate by 30%”, estimates Brussels.

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The measures presented “can reduce European demand for Russian gas by two-thirds by the end of the year” and “make the EU independent of Russian hydrocarbons well before 2030”, assured the European executive in a statement. . Russia supplies 45% of the EU’s gas and coal imports, and 25% of those of oil. The roadmap will be discussed on Thursday and Friday by the Heads of State and Government of the Twenty-Seven meeting in Versailles (France). They should commit to “getting out of (their) dependence on imports of Russian gas, oil and coal”, but without specifying a timetable, according to draft conclusions consulted by AFP.

A challenge for countries like Finland, Slovakia, Hungary or the Czech Republic which import most of their gas from Russia, or even Germany, which is 55% dependent on Russia for its supplies. Berlin recalled that there was no alternative to get rid of it “for the moment”.

A greenhouse gas reduction target to be maintained

The Commission itself calls for a gradual break: “Let’s not hurt ourselves more than we do Putin. We must not destabilize our societies at a time when we must remain united”, acknowledged Monday before MEPs the vice-president of the European executive, Frans Timmermans. For the time being, Brussels wants to moderate the impact on household and business bills by expanding the “toolbox” unveiled in the fall: a panoply of measures (price regulation, direct aid, tax relief, elimination of VAT…) that States can adopt in the face of the energy crisis.

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Beyond the already relaxed conditions for public aid, the Commission will allow States to tax the profits of energy companies generated by the surge in prices in order to redistribute them, but on condition of “not generating unnecessary distortion of the market”.

The Commission is also considering emergency measures to limit the contagion effect of gas prices on wholesale electricity prices, in particular with a temporary cap on the latter. On the other hand, if the temporary use of coal is not “taboo” for countries wishing to quickly reduce their imports of Russian gas, “this does not exempt them from their commitment to achieve” their greenhouse gas reduction objectives. for 2030 and we therefore need an acceleration on renewables in parallel, warned Frans Timmermans.

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