PRAGUE – The European Union’s executive arm on Friday pledged to draft an emergency plan this month aimed at helping member countries do without Russian energy in the wake of the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the initiative would build on EU moves to ditch Russian coal, oil and natural gas and would complement a bloc-wide push to accelerate the development of renewable energy such as wind and solar power.
“We are preparing emergency plans for Europe,” von der Leyen said in the Czech town of Litomysl, where she marked the start of the country’s six-month stint as holder of the rotating EU presidency. “Energy prices are high. People -- rightly so -- expect us to do something about it.”
She said the contingency plan, due around mid-July, would focus on two key points including having a “clear idea" of where to cut back on Russian energy supply and to do it “in a smart way” as well as to rally around EU countries facing supply squeezes.
“We need a good, common plan that the energy flows, or the gas flows, where it is needed most,” von der Leyen said.
She said the plan would be developed in coordination with the Czech government, whose prime minister highlighted the political pressure across the EU to act.
“Energy prices are suffocating our economy,” Premier Petr Fiala said alongside von der Leyen. “This is our biggest test for the coming months.”
The commission announced in May a plan dubbed REPowerEU to abandon Russian energy amid the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine, proposing a nearly 300 billion-euro ($312 billion) package that includes more efficient use of fuels and faster rollout of renewable power.
“The next step is to make available to the EU member states the 300 billion euros that come along with REPpowerEU, and therefore, of course, we count on your presidency to reach rapidly agreement on the adoption of the REPowerEU regulation,” von der Leyen told the Czech premier.
This investment initiative is meant to help the 27 EU countries start weaning themselves off Russian fossil fuels this year. The goal is to deprive Russia, the EU’s main supplier of oil, natural gas and coal, of tens of billions in revenue and strengthen EU climate policies.
Jonathan Stearns in Brussels contributed.