Se­f­covic: “We should ex­plore common pur­chas­ing of gas”

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

As the world’s big­gest en­ergy con­sumer, the Euro­pean Union should ex­plore ways to buy gas as a group, the Com­mis­sion’s new En­ergy Union boss told a con­fer­ence in Brussels on Mon­day.

The idea was put for­ward ear­lier this year by Poland’s then-prime min­is­ter and in­com­ing Euro­pean Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Don­ald Tusk, as one op­tion for stand­ing up to Rus­sia and its state gas company Gazprom, the pol­icy and news site EurAc­ said.

Many in Brussels said the sin­gle buyer plan raised anti-trust is­sues and was in­op­er­a­ble, even though Tusk’s broader support for a strength­ened en­ergy union has gained ground as re­la­tions with Rus­sia, the bloc’s big­gest en­ergy sup­plier, have de­te­ri­o­rated.

Maros Se­f­covic, who took of­fice as vi­cepres­i­dent for En­ergy Union at the start of this month, said Europe could adopt a step-bystep ap­proach.

“We are the big­gest en­ergy con­sumer in the world. We pay our bills on time,” he told the Brussels con­fer­ence. “We should do our best to ex­plore common pur­chas­ing of gas.”

Europe could be­gin with “a grad­ual stepby-step ap­proach,” he said.

The EU pays around 400 bln euros per year for im­ported fos­sil fu­els and the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion has set as pri­or­i­ties cut­ting en­ergy use and di­ver­si­fy­ing sup­plies, as well as a closer en­ergy union, based on im­proved in­fra­struc­ture to share en­ergy across bor­ders, the EurAc­ re­port added.

Among the ways to make progress, Se­f­covic cited the bloc’s en­ergy ef­fi­ciency goals and a re­view meant to strengthen an en­ergy sav­ings tar­get set in Oc­to­ber as part of the EU’s 2030 cli­mate and en­ergy pol­icy aims.

Se­f­covic will also in­sist on im­ple­ment­ing the so-called Third En­ergy Pack­age, he said. Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin has re­peat­edly at­tacked the law that forces en­ergy firms to sep­a­rate out the own­er­ship of dis­tri­bu­tion links if they use them to carry their own gas or power.

Cru­cially, it makes Moscow’s South Stream pipe­line il­le­gal, since Gazprom would con­trol the as­sets as well as the gas it trans­ports.

Moscow is pur­su­ing South Stream to by­pass tran­sit na­tion Ukraine, with which it is locked in con­flict fol­low­ing Rus­sia’s an­nex­a­tion of Crimea ear­lier this year.

Kiev and Moscow are also at odds over Ukraine’s gas debts to Gazprom. The row has been partly dealt with by EU me­di­a­tion that has re­sulted in a tem­po­rary so­lu­tion, which Se­f­covic said was hold­ing.

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