The European Commission has responded to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by outlining a new plan, to be known as REPowerEU, that seeks to make the continent independent of Russian fossil fuels within the next eight years.
The plan additionally looks to tackle rising energy costs across Europe and replenish gas stocks for winter 2022. It said that REPowerEU will seek to diversify gas supplies, speed up the roll-out of renewable gases, and replace gas in heating and power generation. The EC predicted that this can reduce EU demand for Russian gas by two-thirds before the end of the year.
Kadri Simson, commissioner for energy for the EC, said: “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has aggravated the security of supply situation and driven energy prices to unprecedented levels. For the remaining weeks of this winter, Europe has sufficient amounts of gas, but we need to replenish our reserves urgently for next year.”
She added: “The Commission will therefore propose that, by 1 October, gas storage in the EU has to be filled up to at least 90%. We have also outlined price regulation, state aid, and tax measures to protect European households and businesses against the impact of the exceptionally high prices.”
An accompanying two-page factsheet on the programme is light in detail. It said that the case of a rapid clean energy transition under the European Green Deal had never been “stronger and clearer”, and that terminating the bloc’s “dangerous overdependence” on Russian fossil fuels can be achieved well before 2030.
In regard to taking action on fuel prices, the EC said it would look at price regulation, guidance on windfall taxes, opportunities for state aid, and the disconcertingly vague phrase “market actions”.
REPowerEU is not the only attempt to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. Days after the invasion, new German chancellor Olaf Scholz halted the approvals process for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that would have moved gas from Russia to Germany.
At a press conference with Irish prime minister Michael Martin, Deutsche Welle reported Scholz saying: “Now it is down to the international community to respond to this unilateral, unjustified and incomprehensible action taken by the Russian president. We need to coordinate our approach […] in order to send a clear signal to Moscow that activities of this kind cannot remain without consequences.”
It would appear that REPowerEU is one colour in this artist’s palette.