Tag Archives: Energy

EU: Charles Michel convenes Council

Brussels 20.10.2022 Invitation letter by President Charles Michel (pictured) to the members of the European Council ahead of their meeting on 20 and 21 October 2022

“Dear colleagues,

“I would like to invite you to our European Council meeting on Brussels on 20 and 21 October 2022.

“Our discussions in Prague allowed us to have a frank exchange. We will build concretely on this at our European Council meeting.

“The focal point of our agenda is the energy crisis, on which we must act with the utmost urgency. In particular, we must imperatively intensify our three lines of action: reducing demand, ensuring security of supply and containing prices.

“Our meeting will be the opportunity to examine further measures that can reduce prices. This includes: fully capitalising on the negotiating clout of our unity at 27 by jointly purchasing gas, developing a new benchmark that more accurately reflects conditions on the gas market, and examining a temporary dynamic price limit. I also expect us to address other short and long-term market interventions, such as an EU framework to cap the price of gas for electricity generation. I am confident that, despite differing national constraints, we will approach our energy debate constructively, mindful of our urgent collective interest.

“Our economic outlook will depend to a large extent on how we manage our energy crisis. As a corollary to our energy discussion I would like us to also focus on coordinating our economic policy responses effectively including with the support of common European solutions.

“We will also return to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. The Kremlin has chosen to take several escalatory steps, including launching a mobilisation campaign, orchestrating sham “referenda” to illegally annex Ukraine’s territories and pursuing a threatening rhetoric. Most recently, Russian forces have indiscriminately bombed civilian areas. Perpetrators of those war crimes should be held accountable. At our meeting, I would like us to discuss our assistance to Ukraine, and address in particular Ukraine’s immediate needs with a view to preparing it for this winter, as well as the sustainability of our mid- and long-term assistance.

“Furthermore, in the light of the recent sabotage attacks against the Nordstream pipelines, we will also look into ways of intensifying our cooperation to protect critical infrastructure.

“Lastly, in the light of the current geo-political context, we need to hold a strategic discussion on China, exchanging views on how we wish to frame this critical relationship in the future. I would like us to also discuss preparations for the EU-ASEAN summit, taking place on 14 December in Brussels.

“The European Council meeting will start at 3pm on Thursday 20 October. After our traditional exchange with the President of the European Parliament, we will tackle the energy crisis and its economic implications. We will then address the remaining topics, not least the situation in Ukraine and other foreign policy issues.

“I look forward to welcoming you in Brussels.”

MEPs debate energy crisis

Strasbourg 19.10.2022 In a debate with Council and the Commission on the October European Council, MEPs urged leaders to not waste any more time and take urgent action to tackle the energy crisis. (Image: illustration)

For the Czech Presidency, Minister for European Affairs Bek announced that the summit will give a “strong, common European response” to Russia’s war against Ukraine and soaring energy prices. He reiterated the EU’s “unwavering support for Ukraine”, stressed that Russia will be held accountable for the war crimes it is committing and announced that, with regard to the energy crisis, Europe will protect the most vulnerable, while staying competitive.

Commission President von der Leyen called Russia’s attacks on civilians and civil infrastructure “acts of pure terror”. The EU will back Ukraine “for as long as it takes”. The best response to the Russian war on energy is “European solidarity and unity” she said, pointing to the Commission’s proposals to address the energy crisis. Buying gas together and pooling demand, saving energy and sharing gas are absolutely critical. “Energy solidarity is a fundamental principle of our treaties”, she said. With regard to electricity prices, she said that the “Iberian model needs to be considered at EU level” and called for massive investment into infrastructure, energy efficiency and renewables.

In their responses, MEPs urged EU leaders to take bold and determined actions to address the energy and cost of living crises without further delay. Most called for European solidarity and unity in the face of what they labelled a Russian attack on Europe using energy supply as a weapon. Some welcomed the Commission’s proposals to contain energy prices, in particular the mechanism for joint gas purchases, while many considered that they come late and fall short of what is necessary.

Beyond the actions in the energy field, several MEPs asked for stronger EU social initiatives, including a new support instrument for the most vulnerable, as well as a European investment fund, to consolidate Europe’s energy and industrial autonomy and support the green transition, among others aims.

MEPs debate energy price

Strasbourg 14.09.2022 Measures against the dramatic rise in energy prices were up for a debate with the Czech Council Presidency and the Commission on Tuesday, September 13. (Image above: illustration).

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is set to present emergency proposals on energy during her State of the European Union speech in plenary September 14.

During the debate, the Czech Council Presidency announced that Council will seek to approve the European Commission’s upcoming proposals during an emergency meeting at the end of September.

European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson said that the Commission will propose measures to reduce electricity demand during peak price hours in order to bring more balance to the market. It will also introduce an EU-wide limit on the remuneration of low-carbon energy, so that revenues above that cap will be used to help member states support vulnerable consumers. She also said that the Commission will work with electricity market regulators to address the liquidity problems on the market.

During the debate, MEPs emphasized the need to ensure that the EU response is built on solidarity, and that profits made by energy companies must be used to protect consumers.

Many urged for a further boost for renewables and developing cross-border energy interconnections – in particular between France and Spain. Germany should not close its remaining nuclear plants in the current circumstances, several said. Other MEPs demanded measures against speculation on the gas market and to cut peak electricity demand, while some considered electricity to be a public good that should not be traded on a stock market.

MEPs: nuclear joins “green” energies

Strasbourg 07.07.2022 The European Parliament has rejected a motion to oppose the inclusion of nuclear and gas as environmentally sustainable economic activities. (Image above: illustration).

The European Parliament did not object to the Commission’s Taxonomy Delegated Act to include specific nuclear and gas energy activities, under certain conditions, in the list of environmentally sustainable economic activities covered by the so-called EU Taxonomy.

As the Commission believes there is a role for private investment in gas and nuclear activities in the green transition, it has proposed the classification of certain fossil gas and nuclear energy activities as transitional activities contributing to climate change mitigation.

The inclusion of certain gas and nuclear activities is time-limited and dependent on specific conditions and transparency requirements.

278 MEPs voted in favour of the resolution, 328 against and 33 abstained. An absolute majority of 353 MEPs was needed for Parliament to veto the Commission’s proposal. If neither Parliament, nor Council object to the proposal by 11 July 2022, the Taxonomy Delegated Act will enter into force and apply as of 1 January 2023.

The Taxonomy regulation is part of the Commission’s action plan on financing sustainable growth and aims to boost green investments and prevent ‘greenwashing’.

Borrell travels to Washington D.C.

Brussels 06.02.2022 The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell will travel to Washington, DC, on 7-8 February, according to the announcement of the European External Action Service.

On 7 February Borrell will hold a bilateral meeting with US Secretary of State Blinken to discuss pressing issues on the international agenda to reconfirm the strength of the transatlantic partnership at a crucial moment for global diplomacy.

The EU top diplomat will then co chair alongside EU Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson the EU-US Energy Council from the EU side and with Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, and Secretary of Energy, Jennifer Granholm, on the US side.

The EU-US Energy Council will be crucial to take forward cooperation on energy security and on the joint commitment to accelerate a just and clean energy transition to climate neutrality for citizens of the EU, the United States, and around the globe. The event comes at a pivotal moment for addressing energy supply to address the availability of natural gas and volatile prices.

On 8 February, Borrell will speak at the inaugural event of the Jean Monnet Conversations series, co-organised by the EU Delegation, the French Embassy and The Atlantic.

Further the chief of the EU diplomacy is also due to meet with Members of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

EUCO: Summit addresses energy prices

Brussels 22.10.2021 The European Council addressed the recent spike in energy prices and considered the impact of the price rises on citizens and businesses, especially our vulnerable citizens and SMEs, striving to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The toolbox presented in the Commission Communication on tackling rising energy prices contains useful measures for both the short and the longer term.

The European Council invites:

– the Commission to study the functioning of the gas and electricity markets, as well as the EU ETS market, with the help of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA). Subsequently, the Commission will assess whether certain trading behaviours require further regulatory action;
– the Member States and the Commission to urgently make the best use of the toolbox to provide short-term relief to the most vulnerable consumers and to support European companies, taking into account the diversity and specificity of situations of Member States;
– the Commission and the Council to swiftly consider medium and long-term measures that would contribute to energy at a price that is affordable for households and companies, increase the resilience of the EU’s energy system and the internal energy market, provide security of supply and support the transition to climate neutrality, taking into account the diversity and specificity of situations of Member States; and

– the European Investment Bank to look into how to speed up investment in the energy transition, within its current capital headroom, with a view to reducing future disruption risks and meeting Europe’s global connectivity ambitions.The extraordinary meeting of the TTE Council (Energy) on 26 October 2021 will take this work forward immediately. The European Council will keep the situation under review and revert to it in December.

EU: Borrell talks with Blinken in Washington

Brussels 15.10.2021 The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell met with the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington on Thursday,October 14.

The European diplomat welcomed recent intense engagement with the U.S. Administration and expressed the importance to further deepen the EU-U.S. strategic partnership to jointly address foreign policy, security and global challenges. Further he welcomed, in particular, the launch of the Trade and Technology Council in Pittsburgh as a strong example of the shared commitment to work together to provide answers to some of today’s most pressing challenges.

Borrell and Blinken highlighted the intention to launch a dialogue on security and defence by the end of the year. The EU diplomat welcomed the setting up of this dedicated channel to discuss common security and defence challenges, building on the mandate agreed by the EU and U.S. Leaders at the EU-U.S. Summit in June. He welcomed the US support for a stronger and more capable European defence and stressed that stronger EU capabilities contribute positively to transatlantic and global security, and also strengthen NATO.

Both diplomats agreed to launch EU-U.S. consultations on the Indo-Pacific, with the aim to step up transatlantic cooperation and joint engagement in the region. They agreed to hold a first high-level meeting this year.

They welcomed the work done under the EU-US Dialogue on China and agreed to hold the next high-level meeting in December. They also agreed to launch the High-level Dialogue on Russia, with the first meeting planned to take place before the end of this year.

Borrell and Blinken discussed some of the most urgent foreign and security policy issues. They addressed, amongst others, the latest developments related to Afghanistan, with the High Representative underlining the utmost priority for the international community being to prevent the socio-economic collapse of the country and the need to work jointly on solutions for Afghan people.

They further discussed the opportunities for continued EU – U.S. partnership in the Western Balkans in support of the region’s progress on its European path, underlined the importance of EU-facilitated Dialogue in addressing issues related to the comprehensive normalisation of relations between Serbia and Kosovo and, referring to recent developments, highlighted the need for de-escalation and re-engagement in negotiations. They agreed to further strengthen their cooperation on these matters.

The diplomats also discussed the situation in Venezuela and their strong will to support political processes to restore stability and democratic reconciliation in the country. In addition, they discussed the efforts towards stabilisation in the Sahel region.

They paid attention to high energy prices, the global impact of this crisis as well as the green energy transition. They looked forward to the next meeting of the EU-U.S. Energy Council early next year, agreed on the need for an ambitious outcome at the COP 26 climate conference.

Concluding the talks Josep Borrell once again has drawn attention to the modality of the relations between two partners. “The European Union and the United States share an important and unique relationship. We will continue to work closely not only because we are partners of first resort but also because friends and allies look at us and expect us to work together to address global challenges” the EU diplomat said.

Socialist MEPs block Resolution on Turkey

The European Peopole’s Party (EPP) has issued a statement following the Left Groups S&D and GUE block of the Resolution from European Parliament as tensions continue to increase between the European Unions and Turkey.

On the initiative of the EPP Group, the European Parliament will debate the continued and repeated aggression of Turkey against Greece and Cyprus next week. In light of the situation, Chairman of the EPP Group, Manfred Weber MEP, called for an urgent debate with High Representative Josep Borrell.

“Turkey is unilaterally escalating conflicts with Europe and the situation is getting worse. Turkish security forces attack the Greek border on a regular basis and the drilling attempts in the waters of Cyprus are intensifying continuously. The EU cannot leave these aggressions unanswered.”

Greece has seen repeated attempts by groups of people trying to cross the border illegally, with the help of the Turkish security forces. The Head of the Greek Delegation of the EPP Group, Vangelis Meimarakis MEP, stated: “President Erdogan is provoking another refugee crisis for his own benefit on the back of desperate people. Turkey’s actions undermine the refugee agreement and are a threat to stability in Europe. The European Parliament should send a clear signal to Turkey that it has gone too far and that it must stop challenging the EU.”

Turkey’s illegal drilling activities in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus have also been escalating recently. “We expect the European Union to show solidarity in practice and to vigorously defend Cyprus and Greece against Turkish aggression. If the current measures do not stop Turkey’s illegal activities, it is clear we need to further increase the pressure”, said the Head of the Cypriot Delegation of the EPP Group, Lefteris Christoforou MEP.

The EPP Group called for a strong statement from the European Parliament, a debate and a Resolution, to denounce Turkey’s actions. However, during the discussions with the other political Groups, the Socialists (S&D) and the Communists (GUE) blocked a Resolution on the matter.

“In light of the facts on the ground, it is incomprehensible that the Left wing parties reject a strong and clear signal from the European Parliament”, the MEPs noted.

Image: illustration, European Parliament hearing, Brussels

NATO tumultuous Summit

Arriving to NATO Summit in Brussels President Trump bitterly criticised European allies for not meeting the two percent spending for defence needs, they signed for as Alliance members. (The VIDEO of President Donald Trump address at breakfast with Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg below).

“I think it is unfair,” Trump said, making clear that unlike his predecessors, he is not only going to talk about it, but resolve the issue. “We can’t put up with it,” he added pointing that the US should not have to pay the biggest share of NATO defence expenditure while Germany – the biggest European economy –  contributes just over 1% of GDP. Germany’s plan to increase its defence expenditure to the NATO target of 2% of GDP by 2030. was not satisfactory Trump said, adding: “They could do it tomorrow.”

However the criticism of the allies did not stop with the budget issue, and President Trump went on, extensively criticizing Germany for trade with Russia, namely for construction of the North Stream 2 pipeline in Baltic sea.

Apparently the international project of direct delivery of cheap Russian gas to Germany via Baltic sea bed would substantially impact the US attempts to sell their expensive liquid gas (LNG) to Europe, the experts say. It will also strip Ukraine from Russian transit gas payments from exploiting  the pipeline system they have inherited, a from the USSR.

“I think it is very sad when Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia,” Trump regretted. “We are supposed to be guarding against Russia, and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions dollars a year to Russia”.

“We are protecting Germany, we are protecting France, we are protecting all of these countries and then numerous of the countries go out and make a pipeline deal with Russia where they are paying billions of dollars into the coffers of Russia. I think that is very inappropriate.”

“It should never have been allowed to happen. Germany is totally controlled by Russia because they will be getting 60-70% of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline.”

“You tell me if that’s appropriate because I think it’s not. On top of that Germany is just paying just a little bit over one percent whereas the United States is paying 4.2% of a much larger GDP. So I think that’s inappropriate also.”

The Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg attempted to reason President Trump, making his point that “even during the Cold war, NATO allies were trading with Russia.”

However the attempt to call to reason did not impact the fiery rhetoric of President Trump targeting Germany, and defining it as a “captive of Russia“.

Previously the attempts to promote the US liquid gas sales to Europe were undertaken by President Obama, but were declined by the European Union for economic reasons.

Russian company Gazprom underlines that the construction of new pipeline, similar to the one in operation (North Stream) will establish a direct link between Gazprom and the European consumers. “It will also ensure a highly reliable supply of Russian gas to Europe”, the latter is a significant factor for the European economies, which have already been ‘hostages’ to Ukraine-Russia trade arguments, left without gas supplies.

 

 

 

EU concerned about side effects of US anti-Russian measures

The EU is currently raising its concerns via all diplomatic channels with the US and its counterparts on the side effects of the new US package of measures against Russia on the EU. The Commission will continue to closely monitor the on-going legislative process in the US and the subsequent implementation of the Bill and will act swiftly if and when needed.

On the basis of a presentation by President Juncker and Vice-President Katainen, the College of Commissioners discussed today the state of play of the US draft Bill on Russia sanctions – “Countering Russian Influence in Europe and Eurasia Act 2017”. Commissioners expressed their concerns notably because of the draft Bill’s possible impact on EU energy independence.

The Bill as endorsed by the US House of Representatives demonstrates that a number of these concerns are being taken into account. It nevertheless foresees the imposition of sanctions on any company (including European) which contributes to the development, maintenance, modernisation or repair of energy export pipelines by the Russian Federation. Depending on its implementation, this could affect infrastructure transporting energy resources to Europe, for instance the maintenance and upgrade of pipelines in Russia that feed the Ukraine gas transit system. It could also have an impact on projects crucial to the EU’s diversification objectives such as the Baltic Liquefied Natural Gas project.

While the College underlined the importance of the sanctions regime against Russia and its strict implementation, it expressed concerns about the possible negative political consequences of the draft Bill. As reiterated at the G7 in May, new sanctions should always be coordinated between allies.

“The EU is fully committed to the Russia sanctions regime. However, G7 unity on sanctions and close coordination among allies are at the heart of ensuring the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements. This is a core objective that the EU and the US share. The US Bill could have unintended unilateral effects that impact the EU’s energy security interests. This is why the Commission concluded today that if our concerns are not taken into account sufficiently, we stand ready to act appropriately within a matter of days. America first cannot mean that Europe’s interests come last” – Juncker said.

The Commission will continue to closely monitor the on-going legislative process in the US and the subsequent implementation of the Bill and will act swiftly if and when needed.

The president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker reacted upon the newly adopted US sanctions package against Russia with a statement:

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