The goal formulated by the European Commission (EC) in the first weeks of the war – to reduce dependence on blue fuel supplies from Russia by two-thirds by the end of the year – is slipping through the Union’s hands. European Union is on the verge of exceeding the threshold of one-third of last year’s supplies.
For the reduction in purchases on the scale of the EU’s independence-building plan, REPowerEU, to become a reality, Europe will have to cut itself completely from Russian gas in the coming weeks. As per Frans Timmermans, the European Commission’s executive vice-president, by the end of2022, the EU could replace 100 billion cubic meters (BCM) of gas imports from Russia, which is two-thirds of what the EU imports from Russia. There is no indication of such a scenario today.
The EU-27, with great difficulty, reached an agreement on the launch of an oil embargo at the end of the year, and there is no chance on the horizon for an imminent sanction on gas, towards which the approach of European governments and business is even more cautious.
Moreover, a large part of the de- Russification has resulted from decisions taken in Moscow. This is primarily about Vladimir Putin’s decree on gas charges in rubles, which led to the suspension of Gazprom’s supplies, mainly to Poland. The withdrawal of gas from the East is progressing much slower than postulated by Brussels.
This year’s pipeline deliveries from the East are almost one-third lower than those carried out in the same period last year. At the beginning of June 2021, Russia’s share in deliveries to Europe was nearly 40 per cent. In the first week of the war, it amounted to almost one-third. The figure is expected to be even lower in June. However, this is still not enough to fulfil the EU’s ambitions.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, on June 10, said a Russian gas embargo would destroy the European economy. In May, the head of the Hungarian government said that Europe, due to the sanctions it had imposed against Russia, was “dancing” on the edge of the global economic crisis. The politician pointed to rising energy prices and rising inflation.