Europe Needs Energy Union
As EU leaders head to Brussels for this month’s summit, they must confront head-on the failures that have hamstrung progress toward energy union. Whereas energy packages, like regulations or sanctions, have a limited shelf life, a consolidated energy market does not.
MADRID – Since Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in February, the European Union’s frantic efforts to adapt its energy markets and infrastructure to new geopolitical realities have been an object of fascination in media and policy circles alike. Not a day has passed, it seems, without a flurry of commentaries and discussions about the dilemmas Europe faces. Yet, after nearly ten months, the EU is nowhere near forging a coherent energy policy. The just-completed meeting of the EU’s Extraordinary Energy Council was telling: member states’ energy ministers wrangled over common gas cap prices and effectively kicked the can down the road.
To be sure, the EU has made some progress this year. The Kremlin’s brutal war of aggression against Ukraine finally forced Europe to confront the consequences of its self-induced dependency on Russian energy. Compounding the challenge were pipeline bottlenecks, the legacy of insufficient upstream investment, and the halving of France’s nuclear capacity, owing to unforeseen maintenance shutdowns.
The EU’s initial response to the energy-market upheaval was chaotic. Reminiscent of the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, every member state was effectively left to fend for itself. As individual member states scrambled to secure alternative supplies, they sometimes ended up bidding against one another.
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