EU Energy Geopolitics

by William Yeatman on November 21, 2008

On the eve of this last weekend’s European Union-Russia summit, the first since the Georgian conflict, the EU Commission released a report that says reducing dependence on Russian natural gas is “one of the EU's highest energy priorities.” European countries—but especially Germany, the EU’s largest economy—have become increasingly dependent on Russian natural gas in large part because of environmental regulations targeted at the coal and nuclear energy industries. Moscow, however, has demonstrated a willingness to use its energy supplies to coerce and threaten other countries. As a result, the EU is aggressively pursuing the construction of gas pipelines that would deliver fuel from Central Asia and bypass Russian territory, so that Gazprom, Russia’s state owned monopoly on gas exports, could not influence or inhibit the flow of gas. Former Russian President Vladimir Putin responded to the report by questioning whether Russia should proceed with a major planned pipeline under the North Sea that would deliver Russian gas directly to European markets.

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