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European security issues

21 - Diversification of gas supply routes to Europe

Grade: B-
Unity 3/5
Resources 4/5
Outcome 5/10
Total 12/20
Scorecard 2010/11: B- (11/20)

Despite disagreements, member states and the European Commission took important steps to diversify supply and increase security.

The EU aims to help diversify gas-supply routes in order to reduce the dependence on Russia of some of its member states, particularly those in the Baltic and Central and Eastern Europe. The EU supports both the construction of interconnectors to enable reverse flows of gas between member states and also the building of alternative transit routes and terminals for liquefied natural gas (LNG). 2011 brought mixed results. The first part of the Nord Stream pipeline, which was supported by Germany but opposed by Poland and the Baltic states, was completed. This, together with Germany’s decision to phase out nuclear energy, means that the EU’s dependence on Russian gas is likely to continue in the medium term. The EU’s plans to diversify away from Russia suffered another blow after France’s EDF, Italy’s Eni and Germany’s Wintershall announced in September that they had signed a deal with Gazprom to join the Russia-sponsored South Stream project – a rival to the EU-backed Nabucco pipeline. However, Nabucco – which Russia opposes – received a boost after Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan reconfirmed their interest and the European Commission received a mandate to lead negotiations on a Trans-Caspian Pipeline that would deliver Turkmen gas for Nabucco.

On this issue, Europe was led by Baltic and Central European member states: the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland and Romania. They both drew attention to the issue of dependence on Russia and took steps to diversify by revamping their energy infrastructure or adding new components enabling reverse flows in their cross-border pipelines (such as between Latvia and Lithuania or Austria and Slovakia). Interconnectors are being built to link gas systems between neighbouring countries (such as between the Czech Republic and Poland and between Hungary and Romania). Poland is constructing an LNG terminal, though the Baltic states so far have not reached agreement on the location of a joint LNG terminal. All in all, these steps would ensure that EU member states would be better protected against possible gas-supply interruptions.

Member States
Leaders:  Czech Republic - Estonia - Hungary - Lithuania - Poland - Romania
Slackers: Belgium -France - Luxembourg - Netherlands