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Europe’s Energy Myopia

French President Emmanuel Macron’s opposition to the completion of the Midi-Catalonia pipeline is symptomatic of a broader problem in Europe. Even as they all face spiking energy prices, EU members cannot seem to shake their every-country-for-itself mentality.

MADRID – As summer turns to autumn in Europe, the stakes of the continent’s energy crisis are rising fast, with no end in sight. While the proximate cause of the current price spike is the war in Ukraine, its roots run much deeper. In fact, it was the inevitable result of European inaction and tunnel vision – specifically, its failure to build a true energy union and its single-minded focus on implementing the European Green Deal.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had a unifying effect on the European Union. It also helped to revive a transatlantic relationship that had been weakened not only by Donald Trump’s presidency, but also by America’s unilateral withdrawal from Afghanistan and formation of the AUKUS defense partnership with Australia and the United Kingdom (a slap in the face to France). Today, the EU-US relationship is the strongest it has been in six years.

On the energy front, the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which was set to carry Russian gas directly to Germany, appears to be dead in the water. Even the Nord Stream 1 pipeline has been shut down, at least for now, after more than a decade in operation. The EU has set its sights on the long-unthinkable – and possibly unfeasible – goal of completely ending its dependence on Russian gas. The scale of that task was made apparent by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s recent State of the Union address, which proposed a number of sweeping energy measures but stopped short of imposing a price cap on Russian gas imports.