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Energy security: Brussels, stop dreaming about the market and confront Russia and China geopolitically

European leaders are under the delusion that they can solve Europe’s security of energy supply problem by creating a strong internal market, which they believe the rest of the world will be eager to serve. In reality, reducing dependence on Russia will require long-term political commitment, real power play and engagement with countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), write Cyril Widdershoven of energy research institute TNO and Sijbren de Jong of The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies. If it’s not too late already: Russia and China are already filling the gap in the MENA region that the US is leaving.

Top US officials and energy experts showed themselves highly positive recently at a conference in Istanbul about the progress the EU has made in reducing its energy dependence on Russia. And they said that with US LNG exports under way, the “monumental” Southern Corridor under construction, and Gazprom’s South Stream project under pressure (and now cancelled), Europe’s position will only get stronger.

The same picture emerged from a high-level US-EU Energy Council Meeting in Brussels on 3 December, attended, among others, by European Commission Vice President Maroš Šef?ovi?, EU High Representative Federica Mogherini, European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cańete and US Secretary of State John Kerry.

In a Joint Statement, the two parties said “that energy should not be used as a political tool”. They reaffirmed “recommendations made by the European Commission in the EU’s Energy Security Strategy to increase energy efficiency, strengthen domestic production, diversify supplies, complete the internal energy market, maintain a unified voice in external energy policy, bolster emergency and solidarity mechanisms while protecting critical infrastructure”. They also said that “energy security is underpinned by open, competitive and transparent international energy markets and through supportive policies that promote the sustainability of energy production and consumption, in particular the development and deployment of renewable and low carbon energies and energy efficiency.”

As to diversification of supplies, the EU and US representatives “welcomed the prospect of U.S. liquefied natural gas exports in the future since additional global supplies will benefit Europe and other strategic partners” and pinned their hopes on “the growing potential of the new gas resources in the Black Sea, North Africa, and Eastern Mediterranean”.

The diplomats in Brussels will have been happy: the EU’s energy security seems to be taken care of before a real crisis has even emerged. Non-Russian energy supply will be available, bringing relief to energy thirsty Europe while denying Russia additional power over Brussels. All this is in line with the latest European  Commision In-depth study of  European energy security,  in which the global gas market and EU’s security of energy supply was assessed. The market will solve the problem, European customers will be served, no worries about cold winters. The dreams of Brussels about energy independence from Russia and Washington’s geopolitics seem to be coming true. The current Cold War between East and West on security of energy supply will not become hot.

For the complete article, please see energy post.