The EU's energy worries

Nov 24, 2006 01:00 AM

The European Union has many problems and worries. A relatively new one of these worries is the matter of energy security.
Emerging in the past several years, this concern is raised in almost every meeting, summit and report, and EU leaders also mention it constantly. Javier Solana, the EU security and foreign policy representative, is the latest leader to voice this concern.

Proclaiming his anxiety in a dramatic way at the energy security conference held in Brussels, he gave the following message: “Today the struggles to be made in the energy field may take the place of past struggles to conquer land. We should take our energy wherever we find it. Even though energy markets are becoming increasingly global, today a large section of the worlds’ gas and petroleum reserves are located in unstable and non-democratic regions.”
“Competition regarding energy may limit the EU’s capability to realize foreign policy goals like human rights and good administration. As the EU, we have to produce a united energy policy; otherwise, we will remain behind our competitors. Russia and other neighbours need to guarantee us on the subject of petroleum and natural gas agreements with long-term, suitable conditions that guarantee our investments, on the one hand, and client relations, on the other hand.”

Undoubtedly, these messages of Solana are very important and meaningful. In particular, they are a sign that for the sake of its energy security, the European Union can be compromising on the subjects of good administration and human rights, which it gives so much importance to. Plus, they are a warning to Russia.
Actually, this message has been being given to Russia for a long time, but Russia hasn’t been getting it and insists upon not doing what is required. For example, a comprehensive energy promissory note or agreement that would put energy relations between the EU and Russia in a new legal framework simply isn’t being approved in the parliament.

Beyond this, the European Union hasn’t forgotten and can’t forget how the natural gas crisis at the beginning of the year between Ukraine and Russia harmed it. It cannot overlook the possibility that Russia’s pipes can be shut off again.
In short, the European Union is trying to determine how much it can trust Russia after this. It is constantly busy trying to develop policies and plans accordingly. In addition, it wants to find other alternative energy sources besides Russia.

The European Union is undoubtedly right in thinking this way, because it is becoming increasingly dependent on outside sources in regard to energy. Today the European Union gets a high percentage of its total energy needs, roughly 65 %, from foreign sources, and this percentage is expected to rise to above 80 % within 20 years. From their perspective, as of now this is a strategic topic that necessitates anxiety and is a source of concern.
Russia is a country located in the centre of this anxiety. The European Union gets approximately 40 % of its total natural gas from Russia. This % is 100 % for some countries and less for others. The European Union imports Russian oil in increasingly greater quantities than in the past.

In addition to these, it is following with concern the energy relations Russia has developed in recent years that provide large amounts of natural gas to countries like Algeria. It sees that as a result of this, its bargaining power with these kinds of countries is weakening.
In addition, it is worried that Russia will turn the direction of the natural gas it sells to Asia. Due to this and the other reasons, the anxiety the European Union feels on the subject of energy security will continue in the years to come. In fact, it can be said today that this matter will make an impact on EU foreign policy goals and choices.

Energy security not only gives concern to the European Union, one of the global system’s most powerful structures, but it even worries NATO.
In this respect, I can already say that one of the main topics of the NATO summit to beheld in November in Latvia is the subject of energy security.

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