In an ideal world, the EU could be invincible, and its leaders could be superheroes. Charles Michel could be Superman and Ursula von der Leyen – Wonderwoman.
The truth, we all know, is totally different. For the frequent good, the leaders of the establishments are doing what they’ll and what treaties permit them, below fixed stress from the member states. Some member states’ leaders typically act like villains or the stooges of Europe’s enemy, to say solely Viktor Orbán.
It’s principally when Europe is below risk that we want for extra management.
Essentially the most quick risk seems to be a chilly winter. Proper now, Russia has stopped or dramatically decreased its fuel provides for 12 EU international locations. If Russia stops its fuel deliveries utterly, it’s not solely Europe’s trade and economic system that may undergo; some Europeans threat dying of chilly within the winter.
A journalist from Austria’s Kurier not too long ago requested von der Leyen a direct query: “Will it’s doable to make sure that no condo stays chilly?”
She replied: “No person needs to be freezing in Europe this winter”.
We might have most popular a extra categorical “No person WILL be freezing in Europe this winter”.
For that ought to exactly be von der Leyen’s major process. And if she succeeds, that will be a victory for Europe, and he or she ought to get the credit score she deserved.
It isn’t in Russia’s curiosity to chop – or utterly reduce – its fuel provides to Europe. However we all know that Putin typically acts towards the logic of what’s in his nation’s curiosity.
In a worst-case situation, the EU must determine which industries to close all the way down to protect fuel wanted for heating. And, fairly presumably, shutting down industries will not be sufficient.
In the long run, the EU would have the ability to substitute the Russian fuel, together with by boosting renewables, however we’re talking of a number of years of efforts. Throughout this 12 months, we are able to rely on solely restricted further provides from US LNG or further fuel from Norway and Azerbaijan.
Subsequently the Fee appeals to member states, amongst different issues, to scale back the traditional fuel consumption by 15%. Von der Leyen defined that this might quantity to 45 billion cubic meters of fuel, permitting the filling of fuel storage and guaranteeing a security web for all member states.
This 45 bcm will not be a small factor. For comparability, the EU imports 155 bcm per 12 months from Russia.
The Kremlin’s present gas-related methods, together with the broadly publicised synthetic difficulties with Nord Stream 1, have one frequent objective: stopping the EU international locations from filling their fuel storage earlier than winter.
Low-level fuel storages imply a weak EU. Exactly what Russia desires, for instance, is to extort a “peace settlement” below its personal phrases in Ukraine.
A number of member states disagree with the 15% discount and have their causes. Every nation has its personal vitality combine, and a few don’t even depend on Russian fuel.
However this discount is exactly the sort of sacrifice wanted for the frequent good if the EU desires to be stronger whereas there may be struggle at its borders.
In Superman’s world, his energy is in kryptonite. The EU’s energy is in being united.
Throughout the fuel disaster of 2009 (once more below the Czech Presidency), tens of 1000’s of properties in Europe froze, and 11 folks died of chilly, together with 10 in Poland, the place temperatures sank to -25C.
An identical tragedy, which might be of an excellent bigger scale, ought to completely be averted. It could be horrible if the picture this might convey could be that on this hybrid World Battle III, the loser is the EU.
So, fingers crossed and finest needs for Marvel Leyen. She has a tough process, but it surely’s not mission unattainable.
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Look out for…
- Extraordinary Transport, Telecommunications and Vitality Council (Vitality) in Brussels on Tuesday.
- European Fee Vice-President Dubravka Šuica delivers keynote speech for opening ceremony of Peljesac Bridge in Croatia on Tuesday.
Views are the creator’s.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic/Alice Taylor]