“Diversification, renewables, energy saving and investing in infrastructure. We have to prepare ourselves for possible disruptions”, said the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, after the summit on Monday and Tuesday in Brussels. Thus, the EU leaders, meeting this Monday and Tuesday in Brussels, have agreed conclusions on energy in which he asks: “further diversify supply sources and routes and ensure energy supply at affordable prices”; encourages “the rapid use, before next winter, of the EU Power Purchase Platform”; and invites the European Commission "to explore with international partners ways to curb the rise in energy prices, such as the feasibility of introducing temporary caps on import prices where appropriate."
The EU Heads of State and Government also commit to “accelerating the deployment of renewable energies; continue to improve energy efficiency wherever possible and promote energy savings, taking particular account of the island nature of certain Member States; complete and improve the interconnection of the European gas and electricity networks by investing in and completing infrastructure for new and existing projects, such as liquefied natural gas and electricity interconnections; and take advantage of the potential of the Iberian Peninsula to contribute to the security of supply of the European Union”.
The President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, referred to this mention of the Iberian Peninsula at the press conference after the European Council: "If we are an energy island with very few interconnections, and if it has been the taxpayers who have paid the adaptation to liquefied natural gas, I think it is up to the EU to pay for these interconnections. And this is what the European Commission has proposed in the REPowerEU plan. We are talking about capacities financed by Spanish taxpayers for everyone”.
In the approved conclusions, the European Council also calls for “improving the preparation for possible major interruptions in supply, as well as the resilience of the EU gas market, reaching bilateral agreements and a coordinated European contingency plan, which guarantees that the major supply disruptions are mitigated.
The leaders also ask that the filling of reserves be "accelerated before next winter" and applauds "the agreement on gas storage" and calls for "its rapid application". In addition, the conclusions call on the European Commission "to continue work on optimizing the functioning of the European electricity market, including the effect of gas prices on it, so that it is better prepared to resist excessive price volatility." in the future, provide affordable electricity and fully adapt to a decarbonised energy system, while preserving the integrity of the Single Market, maintaining incentives for the green transition, preserving security of supply and avoiding disproportionate budgetary costs.”
Pedro Sánchez explained: “We have recalled the Iberian exception, ready for its entry into force. We have talked about REPowerEU to rapidly and radically reduce dependence on Russian fossil fuels with the financing of 210,000 euros. The important thing is to speed up the interconnections. The Iberian Peninsula and the need to supervise these investments for interconnections, already signed in 2014, have been incorporated into the conclusions. As for the electricity market, the European Commission is entrusted with presenting reforms. It is a debate that Spain continues to promote with others and will end up materializing. The postulates of Spain have been making their way. We would like things to go even faster, hopefully we will advance to the European level.”
The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, recalled that in Versailles the leaders “agreed to gradually disconnect from Russian fossil fuels, we started with coal and last night we tackled oil. Finland, Bulgaria and Poland have already been cut off from gas by Russia. The answer is the REPowerEU plan: diversification, specifically with gas through common purchases and we will achieve better conditions; search for other suppliers, such as those of liquefied natural gas. The second element is the guarantee of supply through interconnections and gas storage. Renewable energy is not only good for the climate, it is good for our independence and creates jobs at home. The plan consists of 300,000 euros.
"Russia is not a reliable supplier," said Von der Leyen.
Joint arms purchases
As for defense, the head of the European Executive has pointed out the "duplicities" that they want to combat with joint purchases. And Michel has said: ”We must spend and invest more and better to act more effectively as Europeans with joint purchasing. It is an opportunity to reaffirm the commitment to NATO, complementary to the EU“.
In the conclusions on defense and security, the 27 Heads of State and Government, in the heat of the "Russian war of aggression against Ukraine" which has "provoked an important change in the strategic environment of the European Union and has highlighted the need for a more stronger and more capable in the field of security and defense”, they have agreed to “increase their security and defense capacity through more and better investments. A stronger and more capable European Union in the field of security and defense will contribute positively to global and transatlantic security and is complementary to NATO, which remains the basis of the collective defense of its members”. They then add: "The European Union reaffirms its intention to intensify support for the rules-based world order, with the United Nations at its core."
Thus, the European Council invites to "examine measures to coordinate defense acquisitions" supported by "joint acquisition to replenish stocks in light of the support provided to Ukraine, as well as a short-term tool to strengthen the industrial capacities of European defense through joint acquisitions”.
The leaders have also approved “the development of an EU strategic defense coordination, acquisition and programming capacity, in complementarity with NATO; new measures to map current and needed additional manufacturing capacities; strengthen the capacity and resilience of the European defense industrial and technological sector, including SMEs; accelerated implementation of military mobility infrastructure projects”. Finally, the European Council “looks forward to the presentation of a possible joint European Defense Investment Programme, including the exploration of a vehicle for exemption from Value Added Tax for European defense projects of great common interest”.