The well-being of European citizens and the European economy requires a secure, uninterrupted and stably-priced supply of energy. Accordingly, the European Commission’s energy security strategy for the EU, based upon in-depth study of the energy dependence of Member States, was intended to address challenges of energy supply security in the medium and long term.
The EU’s Energy Union strategy, launched in February 2015, has five closely interrelated dimensions: “security, solidarity and trust” (meaning “the diversification of Europe’s energy sources to ensure energy security”), a fully integrated internal energy market (“enabling the free flow of energy through the EU through adequate infrastructure” and eliminating regulatory obstacles), energy efficiency, decarbonisation and research-innovation-competitiveness.
EU climate policy foresees a decrease in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of at least 40 per cent by 2030 compared to 1990, a renewable-energy share in total energy consumption of 27 per cent and a 27 per cent increase in energy efficiency. Its natural gas import infrastructure is underutilized.
In October 2016, European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič attended the World Energy Council in Istanbul. He underlined the EU’s objective of enhancing energy security, diversifying its energy sources and expanding and deepening its energy ties with strategic international partners, saying:
Europe is heavily dependent on imported fossil fuels so we need to continue in our world-leading progress on renewable energy and energy efficiency. As we predict that our dependence will not go away in the coming years, we are actively seeking to diversify our fossil fuel sources, and boost our energy efficiency first principle.
Commissioner for Energy and Climate Action Miguel Arias Caete represented the EU in April 2017 at the Rome G7 Energy Ministerial Meeting, which agreed “to continue to promote gas security through the diversification of sources and routes of supply” and “welcomed the opening of new pipeline interconnections [and] new gas supply corridors”.
The EU Member States rely significantly on natural gas for industrial processes, power generation, and domestic usage. In 2016 the EU imported 73 per cent of all energy that it consumes, including 65 per cent of all natural gas consumed. It is predicted that by 2030 the EU will import 73 per cent of the natural gas that it consumes. Russia is still the largest supplier of natural gas to the EU. In 2016, its share in EU imports of natural gas stood at 38.2 per cent (up from 37.5 per cent in 2015).
Amongst other countries, only Norway and Algeria had a significant share in EU gas imports, with the remainder of the world accounting for only 14 per cent. As Eurostat has pointed out, ten EU Member States—Austria, Bulgaria, Czechia, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia—imported more than 75 per cent of their total national gas imports from Russia in 2016.
To reduce and overcome this dependence, new developments now make it now possible to divide, between the two Southern Gas Corridor entry-points, the 30 bcm/y that Turkmenistan has always been willing to sell. These new developments include:
- Implementation of the BRUA pipeline (Bulgaria-Romania-Hungary-Austria).
- The expiration of Gazprom’s control over the Trans-Balkan Pipeline (TBP) in 2019, after which it will become possible to use the TBP as a reverse and swap option from the White Stream intake point to Europe in Constanta, Romania.
- The use of the TBP into Ukraine and then through Ukraine’s gas transmission system (GTS), so that White Stream gas transiting can re-enter Europe in Slovakia through the Bratstvo pipeline and possibly, through smaller pipelines, also elsewhere such as Poland.
- The current reform of Ukraine’s GTS, with the application of cost-based transmission tariffs.