REPowerEU | A bitter medicine for the healing of Europe

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The European Commission on Tuesday proposed the outline of a plan – dubbed REPowerEU – aimed at ensuring Europe’s independence from fossil fuels in Russia long before 2030, starting with natural gas. If things go according to plan, the European Union’s demand for Russian gas could be reduced by two-thirds by the end of this year. The EU plan aims for the EU bloc to diversify its gas supply, speed up the introduction of renewable gas and replace gas for heating and electricity production, according to a statement from the Brussels Executive.

According to the source, the plan also sets out measures to address rising energy prices in Europe and replenish gas stocks for next winter.

Europe has been facing rising energy prices for several months, but the current supply uncertainty amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine exacerbates the problem.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said that Europe must become independent of Russia’s oil, coal and gas.

“We simply cannot rely on a supplier who explicitly threatens us. We must act now to mitigate the impact of rising energy prices, diversify our gas supply for the coming winter, and speed up the transition to clean energy. The faster we switch to renewable energy and hydrogen and increase our energy efficiency, the more independent we will be and have control over our energy system. This week, at Versailles, I will discuss the Commission’s ideas with European leaders and, together with my team, take the necessary steps to implement them quickly, “she said.

Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice President for the European Green Pact, said it was time for Europe to address its vulnerabilities and become more independent in its energy choices.

“Let’s move on to renewable energy sources as soon as possible! Renewable energy sources are cheap, clean and potentially unlimited, and instead of funding the fossil fuel industry elsewhere, it is creating jobs here. Putin’s war in Ukraine demonstrates the urgency of accelerating our transition to clean energy, “Timmermans said.

For his part, Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson pointed out that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has aggravated security of supply and led to an unprecedented rise in energy prices. For the last winter weeks of this year, Europe has enough gas, but for next year we need to replenish our reserves urgently, she warned:

“The Commission will propose that EU gas storage facilities be at least 90% full by 1 October. We have also presented measures to regulate prices, state aid and tax measures to protect European households and businesses from exceptionally high price increases. “

Details of REPowerEU

The Commission’s “Energy Pricing Toolkit”, adopted in October last year, which helped Member States mitigate the impact of high prices on vulnerable consumers, remains an important framework for national measures, the Commission said.

With the plan presented on Tuesday, the Commission will provide additional guidance to Member States, confirming the possibility of regulating prices in exceptional circumstances and setting out how Member States can redistribute to consumers revenues from high energy profits and emissions trading. EU state aid rules also give Member States the opportunity to provide short-term support to companies affected by high energy prices and can help reduce their exposure to medium and long-term energy price volatility.

Following consultation on specific changes to the EU State Aid Emissions Trading Scheme Guidelines, the Commission will also consult with Member States on the need for and scope of a new temporary aid framework. crisis relief to help businesses affected by the crisis, especially those facing high energy costs.

The Commission intends to present, by April, a legislative proposal making it mandatory in the EU to fill at least 90% of the capacity of underground storage facilities by 1 October each year. gas. The proposal would involve monitoring and implementing filling levels and would create solidarity mechanisms between Member States.

“We can gradually get rid of our dependence on fossil fuels in Russia long before 2030,” the Commission statement said.

To this end, the Commission is proposing a REPowerEU plan, which will increase the resilience of the energy system at EU level and will be based on two pillars:

diversifying gas supply due to increased imports of LNG and pipelines from suppliers outside Russia and increased production and imports of biomethane and hydrogen and faster reduction of fossil fuel use in our homes, buildings, industry and energy system by improving efficiency by making greater use of renewable energy sources and electrification and by removing bottlenecks in infrastructure.

The full implementation of the legislative proposals in the “Fit for 55” package presented by the Commission would already reduce annual fossil fuel consumption by 30%, the equivalent of 100 billion cubic meters, by 2030.

If the measures in the REPowerEU plan were adopted, at least 155 billion cubic meters of fossil gas could be phased out, the equivalent of the volume imported from Russia in 2021. Within a year, a reduction of almost two-thirds could be achieved. thus ending the EU’s over-reliance on a single supplier, the EC added.

The EU imports 90% of its gas consumption, with about 45% of imports coming from Russia, a different percentage from one Member State to another.

Imports from Russia also account for 25% of oil imports and 45% of coal imports.