February 11, 2008
A session on the EU’s energy supply and geopolitics focused heavily on Russia, with Central Asia, China, the Middle East and Africa adding to a picture dominated by anxieties over fossil fuel supplies.Thomas Gomart, director of the Russia/NIS Centre at IFRI, pointed to the “securitisation” of Russia’s energy rhetoric, making three main observations: 1.Energy has become an issue of tension between the EU and
Russia. According to Gomart, the EU is currently “incapable” of deciding whether it considers Russia to be a threat or a partner because of the perception that groups such as Gazprom are following instructions from the Kremlin. 2. The EU did not anticipate
Russia‘s quick “ return” to the world stage as mounting inflows of petrodollars allowed the country to repay its debt and propel itself to third place worldwide in terms of currency reserves. 3. Energy relations between the two are based on “heavy interdependence“, with the EU absorbing 85% of Russia’s gas exports (Russian imports cover 25% of total EU gas consumption).Gomart pleaded for a “dedramatisation” of EU-Russia energy relations, saying that the EU should get used to the idea of future “massive Russian investments” in the European energy sector as illustrated by Gazprom’s recent attempts to get a foothold in the UK energy market.
At the same time, he said there should be a “realisation” at European level of the “geo-strategic dimension of energy,” although that recognition brought with it a danger of reducing EU-Russia relations solely to energy matters. The EU, he concluded, should start “behaving like a global actor and not only as a market”. He identified energy efficiency as a key potential area of cooperation, describing Russia as “a huge waster of energy”.
From Eur ActivAuthor : EMI