Newly-approved EU Energy Union to focus on gas security

EU leaders have approved plans to create a bloc-wide Energy Union, but green groups have criticised the Union's early focus for 'keeping the continent dependent on fossil fuels'.

The Energy Union was approved on Thursday night in Brussels, with the European Council identifying independence from Russian gas as the immediate priority.

EU Council chairman Donald Tusk told press members after the vote: “All leaders agreed to reinforce transparency in the gas market, so suppliers cannot abuse the position to break EU law, and reduce our energy security”.

He added that supply contracts with Russia were often secretive deals up to 20 years long which was unhealthy for energy security and the free market.

“Gas contracts should be about the economy, about business. They should not be used as political weapons.”

Aside from making gas supply contracts more transparent and in-line with European law, the EU sought to improve energy resilience by fast-tracking grid infrastructure and interconnections between member states.

Fossil fuel dependent

However, Friends of the Earth (FoE) have called the agreement ‘baffling’, saying the Council should have prioritised energy efficiency and renewables instead of new gas supplies.

FoE Europe climate and energy campaigner Brook Riley said: “It’s baffling to see governments putting gas in prime position when these plans were born out of a desire to end gas import dependency. Heads of state seem to have fallen for gas industry propaganda. Saying gas is a clean fossil fuel is like saying filter cigarettes will prevent lung cancer.”

Green targets

Despite the negative reception from FoE, Thursday’s agreement did include a passage pledging to “review and develop legislation related to emissions reduction, energy-efficiency and renewable to underpin the agreed 2030 targets.”

The EU is committed to a 2030 target of a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990.

In his closing address Donald Tusk also reiterated a commitment to efficiency and renewables, adding: “Leaders also agreed today to step up our climate diplomacy and make a big push for a successful Paris Climate Summit in December. The European Council will come back to the Energy Union before the end of the year.”

Greenpeace EU remained unconvinced:

The full proposals for the EU Energy Union were unveiled last month.

Brad Allen

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