When Vladimir Putin first invaded Ukraine in 2014, Europeans had a simple choice: increase or decrease their energy dependence on Russian fossil fuels. Europeans chose to increase. National governments like Spain and France could have freed themselves from Russian gas just by implementing their own national building renovation plans. But they chose not to.
The UK is no longer part of the European Union, but it is a critical player in the European gas market. As the EU seeks to reduce its dependence on Russian gas, it relies on proximate non-EU states for access to an alternative gas supply, transport, and transit source. This requires cooperation, not competition or exclusion.
Last March, Spain and Portugal reached a historic agreement: for the first time ever, two European countries could set a price cap on gas for power generation, for a period of twelve months. A period to seek agreements was opened in both countries, which ended on 9 June, when the European Commission gave the final approval to the mechanism. This undoubtedly proves that the current European Union is very different to the European Union we were living in during the financial crisis of the last decade.
By granting candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova and by recommitting to the EU membership of the Western Balkans, the European Union opened a new phase of its enlargement which will redesign the European political map again. It was undoubtedly the right decision to assert European sovereignty and also to welcome an embattled country which is showing with bravery that it belongs to the European future and not to a war of the past. A war of the past in Europe because it combines the clash of empires of WW I with the clash of political regimes of WW II. The future in Europe is being created by the values of freedom, equality, solidarity, democracy and sustainability and by a process of European integration which involves enlargement but also deepening. Deepening is a pre-condition for successful enlargement. But as enlargement has now become a political and moral imperative, the issue today is not about choosing between one or another. It is rather about how to make both with a new approach.
We all remember the image of the two lonely dictators at the Winter Olympics in Beijing. Putin was the only international leader to attend, and he was courted accordingly. In return, he was allowed to take back home with him new trade contracts and the promise of ‘unlimited friendship’. Nevertheless, China cannot have been enthusiastic […]
Ukraine has filed its application to join the EU. Brussels and the other European capitals have encouraged its ambition eagerly. Recently, Italian leading newspaper Corriere della Sera featured an interview by Prime Minister Mario Draghi recalling the significance of the self-determination of the Ukrainian people. People who chose the ‘ultimate’ referendum – between life and […]