Europe's energy policy: Just say no

The EU’s energy policy is incoherent to the point of non-existence - but Russia knows exactly what it is doing

Share

Europe has an energy policy - just say ‘no’.  Germany’s Chancellor Merkel says nein to nuclear power. France’s President Hollande says non to shale gas. Britain’s Prime Minister Cameron says no to wind power unless it is a few kilometres out to sea. Poland’s Prime Minister Tusk says nie to any limit on burning brown coal – lignite – the most polluting of any fossil fuel.

In all cases the political leaders have public opinion behind them, and think they will garner votes by saying no to any source of energy the electoral dislikes. The European Commission and European Parliament are saying no - for the time being - to South Stream, the new pipe-line to bring gas from Russia via the Black Sea, Bulgaria, Serbia and Austria. South Stream’s political imperative is to avoid transiting Ukraine just as Russia’s North Stream pipe-line in the Baltic links Russia directly to Germany without traversing Poland.

While the EU’s energy policy is incoherent to the point of non-existence, Russia knows exactly what it is doing – seeking to make Europe ever more dependent on Russian gas. It's a toss up whether Gazprom is an arm of the Russian state, or the Kremlin the political expression of Gazprom.

Certainly the Russian behemoth is everywhere. The Bulgarian Government has stated that it discussed with Gazprom changes to the Black Sea nation’s energy laws which could put South Stream out of reach of European Commission oversight

The European energy Commissioner, Gunter Oettinger wrote a cross letter to Sofia abut this legerdemain and at some stage Brussels will have to decide whether it will get as tough with Gazprom as it did with Microsoft and Intel.

However there is cross-party consensus in Bulgaria in support of South Stream and Bulgaria’s historic pro-Russian warmth is undimmed by the strains of the Ukraine crisis. Western energy firms who have invested in Bulgaria however want fair treatment as well and the main problem Europe faces with Gazprom is its apparent belief that it should not be subject to EU competition law.”

Gazprom sponsors football clubs in Germany, hires the daughter of Romania’s President Basescu as its lawyer in Bucharest, and most famously, has the former German chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, on the payroll.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong in that. Swiss bankers say money has no smell and nor does energy. The West has been dependent for decades on oil from states that finance jihadi terrorism and want the elimination of a UN member state – Israel.

The Kremlin knows what it wants – to make Europe so hooked on Russian energy there will never be any pressure on Russia. But what does the EU want? The Polish prime minister, Donald Tusk, put forward an ambitious plan to create a real EU energy union.

Inspired by the 1950 Coal and Steel union which saw major European nations pool sovereign authority over what was then their main source of energy – coal, and the key component of growth – steel, to a supra-national authority Tusk argues for a single EU purchaser of Russian gas and for Europe to diversity its gas supply to include contracts with the United States or Australia.

He also wants to see an end to market-distorting subsidies such as the billions paid to windmill manufacturers. The Green movement especially in Germany and France have helped accelerate the slow de-industrialisation of Europe but  Mrs Merkel’s Nein to nuclear and Francoise Hollande’s Non to fracking are about politics not economic growth.

Premier Tusk refuses any challenge to his nation’s dependence on lignite and the politics of an energy union which ignore climate change fears will not get off the ground.

However the Polish leader makes the good point that an EU outfit, Euratom is the single purchaser for all the uranium used by 28 member states. If a new body – let’s call it Eurogaz – became the single EU buyer of Russian and other foreign gas then Gaz-Kremlin-Prom would have to play by EU rules instead of having EU nations like Bulgaria defending at any price Gazprom, and behind it, the Kremlin with its divide and rule strategy for Europe.

Once new MEPs and Commissioners are in place creating a European Energy Union would be a project that even Eurosceptics might accept.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Seven per cent of young men have recently stopped using deodorant  

‘Sweaty-gate’ leaves a bad smell for PRs and journalists

Danny Rogers
Alison Parker and Adam Ward: best remembered before tragedy  

The only way is ethics: Graphic portraits of TV killings would upset many, not just our readers in the US

Will Gore
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory