“We had to wait for the aggression unleashed by Vladimir Putin against Ukraine to realize the extent of the EU’s energy vulnerability”

Chronic. “We are convinced that Europe needs a stronger common energy policy (…) which guarantees access to energy at a stable and reasonable price, which maintains our industrial competitiveness, which promotes sustainable development and the transition to a low-carbon society, which mobilizes investment in order to stimulate the industrial prospects of tomorrow and which ensures security of supply for all Europeans. »

These sentences could have been pronounced in reaction to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the energy shock it caused. In fact, they date from May 2010 and are taken from a joint statement by the Polish Jerzy Buzek, then President of the European Parliament, and Jacques Delors, the former President of the European Commission. Almost sixty years after the launch of the European Coal and Steel Community, their idea was to initiate a return to basics by giving meaning to the European project through energy.

The question now arises of understanding why, despite some progress, the good intentions of the time did not materialize and why it was necessary to wait for the aggression unleashed by Vladimir Putin to realize the extent of the energy vulnerability of the EU.

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“The Russian war of aggression in Ukraine shows us dramatically how closely security and energy supply are intertwined. We can no longer afford to ignore this,” recognizes Patrick Graichen, the German Secretary of State for the Climate. It was time. If the blindness was collective, Berlin played a central role in the naivety shown by the EU. Neither Putin’s vehement speech against Western unilateralism in 2007 at the Munich security conference nor the coup against Georgia in 2008 were enough to convince that our oil and gas supplies from the Russia could, sooner or later, pose a problem.

Poland’s key role

We have to wait until 2009 and a break in supplies to Eastern Europe caused by a Russo-Ukrainian dispute over the gas revenue to see the awakening of the EU, in which Poland plays a key role. “Warsaw can be criticized on other aspects of European construction, but if we had listened to the Poles at the time, we would certainly not be here”, underlines Thomas Pellerin-Carlin, director of the energy center at the Jacques-Delors Institute. But Poland will remain isolated until the European Commission, in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, finally decides to speed up the establishment of an energy union.

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