EU seeks urgent solution amid Russian ′weaponization′ of gas | News | DW

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Leaders of the European Union’s 27 member states on Friday called for an urgent plan to secure energy supplies at affordable prices. 

The plan, to be laid out by the European Commission in the coming months, is necessary “in the face of the weaponization of gas by Russia,” the conclusion of the two-day summit in Brussels read. 

The first day of the summit ended on a high note. The leaders agreed in Brussels on granting Ukraine and Moldova official status as candidates for EU membership — a move hailed by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen as “historic.” 

But the display of support for Kyiv comes amid wider economic consequences of Russia’s war on Ukraine. 

A spike in inflation and lagging economic growth across the world has been blamed on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The West also accuses Moscow of “weaponizing” grain supplies and natural gas deliveries. 

Diversifying energy sources

The squeeze of Russian energy is pressuring the EU to find alternatives to prevent a wider energy crisis.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU must work on “diversifying supplies with partners,” not only through finding different exporters, but also moving toward more environmentally friendly energy sources. 

“There will be no return to cheap fossil fuel,” she said. “We must get rid of our dependence on fossil fuel.”

Von der Leyen said gas supply cuts from Russia affected a dozen EU countries. Germany, which is heavily reliant on Russian gas, triggered the second phase of an emergency gas plan. 

Germany running into gas supply issues is likely to have EU-wide repercussions, Belgium’s Prime Minister Alexander De Croo warned ahead of Friday’s meeting. 

“If Germany gets into trouble, it will also have an enormous impact on all other European countries, including our own,” he said. 

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said later on Friday that Berlin and the EU are prepared for a possible interruption of Russian gas supplies, adding that actions have been taken to find alternative sources for energy imports

“This is an effort that must now be accelerated again,” Scholz added. “But we will support each other [in doing so].”

Inflation high on the agenda 

Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank (ECB), joined the EU leaders on Friday to address growing inflation and soaring prices. 

According to the EU stats agency Eurostat, inflation in the 19-country eurozone is at a record high of 8.1%. 

The ECB has pledged to raise interest rates in July — for the first time in more than a decade — in a bid to curb inflation. 

The European Commission also cut its economic growth forecast for this year from 4% that had been expected before the war in Ukraine to 2.7%. 

EU leaders back Croatia joining eurozone 

During Friday’s summit, EU leaders also decided that Croatia is allowed to use the bloc’s common currency starting next year. 

The process will be completed with the adoption of three legal acts following talks with EU lawmakers and the ECB. 

“The euro is the monetary expression of our shared destiny and has been part of our European dream. Now the dream comes true for Croatia,” European Council President Charles Michel wrote on Twitter. 

Croatia is set to join the euro area’s 19 countries, nearly 10 years after it joined the EU in 2013. 

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said the EU’s support is “an excellent signal” for his country’s economy. 

“70% of the tourists that come to Croatia also come from the countries of the eurozone, our trade exchange happens to two-thirds with the countries of eurozone,” Plenkovic said.

fb/kb (dpa, Reuters)



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