‘We are too dependent on Russia for our energy needs’ Timmermans proposes new energy package
The European Commission proposed REPower EU, a plan to reduce the EU’s dependence on Russian gas on Tuesday (8 March). REPower EU aims to make European energy more secure, affordable and green. The core objective is to accelerate Europe’s energy resilience.
“It is abundantly clear that we are too dependent on Russia for our energy needs,” Vice President Frans Timmerman said. “The answer to this concern for our security lies in renewable energy and diversification of supply. Renewables give us the freedom to choose energy sources that are clean, cheap, reliable and ours.”
Though already tabled for publication, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has given renewed impetus to the need to secure Europe’s energy future. The idea is that Russia wouldn’t be able to “turn off the tap” if they no longer control the flow of energy into Europe.
“The only way that we cannot be put under pressure from being Putin’s customer is to no longer be his customer for our essential energy resources,” Timmermans said in Strasbourg on Monday. “The only way to achieve that is to speed up our transition to renewable energy resources.”
According to the Commission’s report, the green means by which Europe would produce this energy would massively reduce the cost of energy for consumers and would create job opportunities. The report notes that green energy like this has a very low variable cost, which means that the cost will be less subject to fluctuation, unlike gas prices.
The proposal encourages immediate actions like speeding up the permit process for wind farms, building more solar panels and increasing the production of heat pumps. Timmermans also encouraged citizens to help out by changing their energy consumption habits.
Timmermans’ proposal includes provisions that would help consumers who are currently struggling to pay for energy amid the sky-high gas prices right now. Measures could include allowing EU states to set prices for vulnerable consumers, households and micro-enterprises in order to help protect consumers and the economy. The Commission also confirms that it will consider temporary tax measures on windfall profits and exceptionally decide to capture a part of these returns for redistribution to consumers. These measures will need to be proportionate, limited in time and avoid undue market distortions.