Fox: We must wean ourselves off Russian gas

09-Jun-2015 @ 18:45

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Europe's drive for energy security must include shale gas and nuclear power, MEPs were warned today.

Overcoming over-reliance on Russian gas would need a far more radical approach than merely focusing on renewables and efficiency, said Conservative MEP Ashley Fox.

The Conservative Industry and Research spokesman told a debate in Strasbourg:  "Russia is ruled by an unfriendly government which is only too happy to use the supply of energy as a political weapon. We saw this happen in both 2006 and 2009 when Mr Putin decided to cut off gas supplies to Ukraine. The continuing crisis in Ukraine has only exacerbated the danger of this happening again."

He was speaking in the debate over a report on the European Energy Security Strategy for which he is the lead negotiator or shadow rapporteur for his group the European Conservatives and Reformists.

Mr Fox said: "Although improving energy efficiency and our use of renewable energy are both important, they will not have much impact on the EU's energy dependency on Russia.

"If we are to truly focus on energy security, we should be willing to use all of the tools available to us, including shale gas and nuclear energy. We should also encourage the development of new technologies, especially carbon capture and storage.

Mr Fox rejected calls in the report for binding climate and energy targets and proposals for interference in the energy mix of member states. That was a national competence and must remain so.

He said he best way to ensure energy security for the whole of Europe was to have a properly interconnected single market with the ability to move gas and electricity around the continent to make another source available if one failed.

He questioned how differently the West might have approached the crisis in Ukraine had we been confident that we could have replaced Russian gas with imports from elsewhere.

"A properly functioning and free market in energy across the EU will reduce prices for consumers and businesses and is the best way to ensure energy security for all of us," he concluded.

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