Indeed, the EU’s gas contingency plan is designed to support countries like Germany, which would be more affected by a possible complete Russian supply freeze. However, the agreement also contains a number of exceptions. Of course, one cannot simply ask countries that are not dependent on Russian gas to reduce their industrial and domestic consumption further than what is actually required at the national level. It therefore ultimately depends on the good will of the EU states whether the agreement will be implemented. The test is imminent if there is a real supply crisis.
What is missing are compensation payments from the EU. An example: If natural gas production in Groningen in the Netherlands is possibly extended, there must be such compensation payments because of the risk of earthquakes there. There must be incentives for EU countries that can guarantee the desired solidarity in gas supplies. I hope that this will be on the EU agenda in September.
I expect similar initiatives to come from other Member States in the coming weeks. At the next EU summit after the summer, this question should be the focus.
Yes, but there is a big difference. Italy has several LNG terminals, and there are also pipeline connections to Algeria, Libya and Azerbaijan. Thanks to this infrastructure, Italy has managed to quickly reduce its dependence on Russian gas under Prime Minister Mario Draghi. In the coming months, Italy expects increased gas imports from Algeria. Germany, on the other hand, has failed in the past to diversify its energy sources beyond Russian gas supplies.
Alongside Italy, Poland is another positive example. Poland has built a pipeline to Norway, the “Baltic Pipe”. In addition, Poland’s LNG infrastructure ensures that the country can now do without gas from Russia.
In the past it was primarily France that blocked this. The missing pipeline connection between Spain and France is an example of how big the gaps in the European grid are. Closing these gaps will be important for the EU in the coming months and years.
The EU Commission can ask the member states to coordinate better on a voluntary basis. This is exactly what happened with the gas emergency plan. But the EU treaties limit what the Commission can do. It must be recognized that energy policy is the responsibility of the nation states.
Recently, Germany has changed its stance on this point. Since Germany itself is now feeling the hardship when purchasing gas – for example from Qatar – the European perspective is also moving more into focus for Berlin. The energy platform set up by the EU Commission can become very important for joint purchases if we want to make use of the size of our market and achieve better conditions. We should use our combined market power to get better deals for consumers.
Germany is in the worst possible position – as a large gas consumer, with a comparatively high proportion of Russian imports and little diversification. It will therefore probably not be sufficient if Germany reduces gas consumption by 15 percent in the event of a complete Russian supply stop. Rather, more than 25 percent will be necessary. It is incomprehensible that in this situation one wants to end nuclear power production. The federal government would do well to show flexibility on this issue if it also expects flexibility elsewhere – for example with the extension of gas production in the Netherlands. Extending service life in Germany should therefore be part of a joint European effort to address this unprecedented energy crisis.