Europe's vulnerability on Russian gas

The Energy Union is already a fact. It represents a useful tool to help Europe overcome the patchwork of energy markets, which prevents the member states from agreeing on a common energy security policy. However, there are obstacles: member states vary considerably in terms of the role of gas in their economies, in the relative importance of gas markets and national economies to major external suppliers (such as Russia), and in the availability of infrastructure to cope with a serious energy supply disruption.

European Union member states have many differences in terms of their energy security and, in particular, in their degree of exposure to a possible disruption of gas supplies from Russia. Figure 1 below illustrates this in three dimensions. The horizontal axis shows the ability of member states to cope with a major disruption of energy supplies from Russia (expressed as member state’s storage capacity as a percentage of Russian gas imports). The vertical axis illustrates each country’s level of dependence on Russian gas, which reflects member state security exposure. And the size of the circles shows the commercial interests of member states and Russia in keeping open gas flows (since both Gazprom and European energy companies have a commercial interest in continued gas sales).

Three groups emerge from this exercise in dividing member states according to their interests in keeping or diversifying away from Russian gas:

For the complete article, please see European Council on Foreign Relations.