Title: EU plan for life without Russian gas a priority as leader’s meet
Jun 24, 2022 03:56AM ET
On Friday, EU leaders will discuss how the bloc will cope without Russian gas and are expected to accuse Moscow of using energy weapons by restricting supplies, which Germany has warned could bring its industry to a halt this winter.
A day after celebrations that Kiev has embarked on a path to membership in the bloc, Friday's summit in Brussels will be a sober reflection on the economic impact of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
In the wake of unprecedented Western sanctions imposed over the invasion, a dozen European countries have so far been hit by the disruption of gas flows from Russia, sparking a frantic search for alternative supplies across the bloc.
It is only a matter of time before the Russians stop all gas supplies.
German Economy Minister Robert Habeck has warned that if Russian supplies remain as low as they are now, his country will face gas shortages, forcing some industrial plants to close for the winter.
Production will have to stop, workers will be laid off, supply chains will collapse, people will go into debt to pay their heating bills.
According to Friday's draft, leaders will call on the EU executive to propose solutions for energy supplies in response to Moscow's weaponisation of gas imports.
They will also stress that their economies remain fundamentally strong and pledge to remain united in response to the challenges posed by the war, which Moscow calls a special military operation.
The bloc has responded to the war with unusual speed and unity, although some sanctions, such as the planned embargo on Russian oil imports, will affect its economies.
Inflation in the 19 countries that share the euro currency has shot to historic highs of more than 8%, and the EU executive expects economic growth to fall to 2.7% this year.
So far, the Commission has not made any proposals as the issue is extremely complex and divisive, and some countries believe that import prices could distort the market and worsen the situation.