President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen announced a new enforcement package to make sure that the effect of the three packages of hard-hitting sanctions already adopted is maximised.
“We have to get rid of the dependency on Russian gas, oil and coal,” reiterated Mrs von der Leyen during a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Draghi.
New proposals will be announced tomorrow, she said and they will be based on three main pillars. The first one is the diversification of supply away from Russia and towards reliable suppliers.
“This is mainly LNG and pipeline gas,” President von der Leyen underlined. “Both have the advantage that the infrastructure is over time hydrogen-compatible.”
The second main element is to repower the European Union.
“Repower means massive investment in renewables, like solar, wind and hydrogen,” she explained. “We are looking for a focused acceleration of the European Green Deal. This is not only important and good for our strategic investment in our independence, but it is also good for our industry and it is good for our planet.”
The third pillar concerns energy efficiency: from the renovation of buildings to smart industrial processes to artificial intelligence, for example, to effectively manage smart energy grids.
Finally, another important part of the discussion will focus on the protection of consumers.
“Today’s energy prices are taking a toll on consumers and businesses,” Mrs von der Leyen added. “We will discuss how to ensure that our electricity market remains efficient despite the high gas prices that have been amplified by Putin’s war.”
The immediate dimension is to shield the most vulnerable consumers and businesses. And a more structural one is to look at the electricity markets looking at a wider share and growing share of renewables in the future.
The importance of the energy industry and energy independence was brought up by President von der Leyen also during other meetings with EU leaders. During the joint press conference with Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger on 3 March, she shared the concern of retaliation measures by Russia and the Kremlin.
“Our friends all over the world, that supply LNG, are willing to step up the supplies of LNG,” she reminded.
On the same day, after speaking with Romanian President Klaud Iohannis she added that the EU is doubling down on renewables, which are the smartest and the cleanest solution to create independence from Russian energy sources. A statement that has also been shared by the Ukrainian Wind Energy Association, which is calling upon governments to further develop renewable energy while keep working towards the coal phase-out.