The European Commission submitted a proposal for the creation of a bloc-wide energy union this week. The New York Times reports:
The European Commission, the bloc’s executive agency, said its proposal for an energy union represented an important step toward unifying member countries’ economies and could help wean some countries from dependence on Russia, which supplies about a quarter of the bloc’s natural gas. […]But the ambitious plans — including some initiatives that have failed to win Europewide approval before — face difficult odds because the 28 European Union countries zealously guard their sovereignty over national energy systems.
This is going to be an uphill slog for Brussels. The national energy policies vary widely across Europe, from nuclear-dependent France to coal-consuming (and green-crazed) Germany to states in central and eastern Europe that are heavily dependent on Russian gas. Some in Europe have secured favorable prices and terms for their own gas from Moscow and may not want to sign onto a broader union if it means a worse deal.That’s exactly why this would be such an important step for the EU, however. Russia has long employed the age-old technique of dividing and conquering with its gas sales to Europe. An energy union, however politically difficult to achieve, would disable one of Putin’s favorite levers. It should accordingly be a priority for Brussels.