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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Barroso Calls for Closer Energy Ties With Russia

APJose Manuel Barroso
BRUSSELS -- European leaders must drop their 25 different and uncoordinated energy policies and repudiate "any kind of nationalism" in the energy sector, EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said Wednesday.

He also said the EU should aim to have half of its energy supply from "secure low-carbon sources" -- such as natural gas, clean coal, renewables or nuclear power -- within 20 years, and urged Europe to form an energy pact with Russia.

Barroso said he would meet with President Vladimir Putin later this month to discuss stepping up the EU-Russian energy partnership -- just two months after Russia's dispute with its neighbor Ukraine temporarily cut gas supplies to Europe.

"We need a new partnership with Russia," he said. "We are interdependent. If we need a flow of energy resources from Russia, namely gas, I believe that it is also in the interest of Russia to have a stable market and a stable relationship with such an important customer as the [EU]."

The EU's executive arm says this would allow long-term investments in new capacities. A quarter of Europe's gas imports come from Russia, one of only three gas suppliers to the bloc.

"We must respond better to sharp emergency oil and gas shocks," Barroso said.

Europe imports 50 percent of its energy needs, making it the world's largest importer and second-largest consumer of energy. The European Commission expects this will rise to 70 percent by 2030 unless Europe cuts demand and develops alternative supplies at home. EU energy demand is forecast to rise by 1 to 2 percent per year, with fossil fuel use rising to almost 90 percent of the total energy supply.

The EU suggested -- but did not give details of -- new ways to deal with energy crises. EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs floated the idea of stockpiling gas as well as oil.

"We should clearly be more ambitious. There should be gas stocks kept," he said. A European Commission paper laying out Europe's energy options will be discussed by European leaders at a March 23-34 meeting.

The paper says Europe must cut its growing addiction to high-priced imported oil and gas.

It urges a switch to new sources of energy, a 20 percent cut in energy use and action to choke the fumes that cause climate change.

Opening up Europe's own energy markets is essential to enable it to become a coherent energy player, Barroso said.