The Tectonic Shift of EU Energy Policy

It is well known that German Chancellor Willy Brandt initiated a European policy of deepening energy ties with Moscow 50 years ago. It was thought that this would lead to a strengthening of the European path of development of the USSR (then Russia) because of the growth of mutual commercial interests. However, Russia's large-scale war against Ukraine has already finally shattered such illusions, but the dependence of European countries on Russian energy resources remains at large.

It is safe to say now that the long period of increased oil and gas supply from Russia to European countries is over. This happened because of the tectonic shift in the minds of most European citizens and politicians. Europeans have realized that Russian energy is not the solution to the problem, but the problem itself.

At the same time, hoping that all European countries would simultaneously completely stop buying Russian energy resources within a few weeks or months is also another illusion. It is very difficult to stop being dependent on the gas drug once you get used to it. The European Union's 40% dependence on Russian gas and 35% on oil speaks for itself. It is predicted that if nothing is done, Russia will get about 300 billion euros of blood money from energy supplies this year alone. This means continued war and tens of thousands of additional casualties, as well as increased risks of military expansion into NATO countries.

Poland and the Baltic countries were the first to realize that Russian energy is not acceptable business, but an energy weapon. Therefore, they are well prepared to substitute Russian energy. They built LNG terminals and interconnectors and signed long-term contracts for gas and oil supply.

At the same time, many European countries until recently believed that Russia was a reliable partner and that buying Russian energy resources was just business. Not only did they not prepare for Moscow's use of energy weapons, but they also increased their dependence on Russian energy.

For Germany, the problem of on Russian gas is much more sensitive than for other European Union countries, since Germany has pursued a policy of increasing gas supplies from Russia for many years, receiving significant price discounts in exchange for political concessions to the Kremlin.Thus, while other European countries (except Austria, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic) can quickly diversify their sources of supply without significant economic losses, for the German economy such diversification can lead to recession as a result of the loss of competitive advantage. After all, it will no longer be possible to obtain large price discounts from Gazprom.

It is clear to German leadership that it is necessary to gradually reduce the share of Russian energy in its own energy mix since the benefits of "cheap" Russian gas could lead Germany to lose its political leadership in Europe. In fact, the recent actions of the German government have brought some results. Thus, since the beginning of Russian aggression the share of gas in total consumption of this country decreased from 55% to 35%, and the share of oil from 35% to 12%. This result has been achieved, in particular, through the diversification of supply sources.

In other words, it is clear that Russia's energy strategy will cause the greatest damage to Russia itself due to the loss of the largest markets for its hydrocarbons and fines for violating contractual agreements. It is expected that Russia’s total losses from the reduction of export of Russian energy resources will reach 70 billion euros.

Volodymyr Omelchenko

Director, Energy Programmes

Born in 1967 in Kyiv

Education: Kyiv Politechnic Institute, Department of Chemical Engineering (1992)

Author of over 50 scientific works and op-ed publications. Took part in development and implementation of international energy projects and scientific research in international energy policy


1992 – 1996 — worked in different positions in the mechanical engineering industry

1997 – 1998 — Head Expert of the Division of Oil, Gas and Petroleum Refining Industry of the Ministry of Economy of Ukraine

1998 – 2003 — Naftohaz Ukrayiny National Joint-Stock Company, in Charge of Oil Transportation Section

2004 – 2007 — Chief Consultant at the National Institute of International Security Problems of Ukraine’s NSDC

since February, 2007 — Leading Expert, Razumkov Centre. Director of Energy Programmes since 2013

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