Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte has dismissed the possibility of the European Union banning the import of energy supplies from Russia in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We have to discuss our vulnerabilities in terms of our dependency on Russian oil and Russian gas. I would not plead for cutting off our supply of oil and gas from Russia today. It’s not possible because we need the supply and that is the uncomfortable truth,” Rutte said during a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron.
Rutte noted that the EU must do more for the “green agenda” and decarbonize the economies of member states.
His statements come after the European Commission announced plans to make Europe independent from fossil fuels before 2030. Roughly 45 percent of the EU’s gas imports are from Russia, along with 45 percent of the EU’s coal imports and 25 percent of its oil imports.
According to the REPowerEU plan, the resilience of the EU-wide energy system will be strengthened by several factors—boosting liquified natural gas and pipeline imports from non-Russian suppliers, increasing the production and import of biomethane and renewable hydrogen, cutting down on fossil fuels, ensuring higher energy efficiency, and so forth.
The Commission estimates that the implementation of its proposals will cut down annual fossil fuel consumption by 30 percent by 2030.
Gradually, the plan could remove 155 billion cubic meters of fossil gas use, which is equivalent to the volume of gas the EU imported from Russia in 2021. Two-thirds of the reduction can be achieved within a year, thus helping the region quickly shrug off its energy dependence on a single supplier.
“We simply cannot rely on a supplier who explicitly threatens us. We need to act now to mitigate the impact of rising energy prices, diversify our gas supply for next winter and accelerate the clean energy transition,” Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement. “The quicker we switch to renewables and hydrogen, combined with more energy efficiency, the quicker we will be truly independent and master our energy system.”
Kadri Simson, European Commissioner for Energy, pointed out that the Russian invasion has driven energy prices to “unprecedented levels” and aggravated the security of energy supplies.
Although Europe has enough gas to meet its demand for the remaining weeks of winter, it needs to replenish reserves “urgently” for the next year. As part of this, the Commission plans on asking EU member states to fill gas storage by up to 90 percent by Oct. 1.
In the United States, President Joe Biden has announced a ban on Russian oil, gas, and energy, insisting that it will deal a “powerful blow” to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The UK declared that it would phase out Russian oil imports by the end of 2022.