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Gas, how and when will we be independent from Russia?

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When and how will we be truly independent from Russian gas? The more the war in Ukraine goes on, the more the regulatory puzzle of paying for supplies from Moscow in double currency, euros and rubles deepens, the more the question takes on weight and finds conflicting answers. If it is clear to everyone that the hypothesis of an embargo would have unsustainable consequences for many European countries, starting with Germany and Italy which are the main buyers of Putin’s methane, the path is much less linear than, in one way or another. in the other, it must lead to a reduction in energy dependence on a single supplier country. Prime Minister Mario Draghi, in his briefing in Parliament, gave an indication that must be valid as a reference. “Government estimates indicate that we could become independent from Russian gas in the second half of 2024: the first effects of this process will be seen already at the end of this year.” In the second part of his reasoning, the prime minister introduces the another key element: we must not only ask ourselves when but also how we can get to proclaim independence from Russian gas. “During my visit to Washington I shared the Italian energy strategy with President Biden and we agree on the importance of preserving the climate commitments that Italy intends to maintain “. Reducing dependence on gas, and in particular on Russian gas, necessarily means finding a way to replace it and the consequences of the choices that will be made will have repercussions on the speed and quality of the energy transition. An eloquent example of how open the debate is came during the ‘PNRR: priorities and future of Italy’ event promoted by Aepi and Adnkronos. Carlo Calenda, leader of Action, said what many prefer not to say: “I believe that renewables are not enough, they are intermittent, to achieve independence from Russian gas we need to equip ourselves with two regasifiers and do a job using coal as well, albeit for a short time. “When coal is named, in Italy, political forces divide easily, moving in harmony with the sensitivity of their respective constituencies. And in fact, Francesco Boccia, former minister and head of local authorities of the Democratic Party, immediately replied . “Calenda hopes for a return to coal, I don’t want to hear about it anymore. Decarbonization is an achievement, there is no need to step back. I get goosebumps … “. Boccia also gave another useful starting point to photograph the situation. The EU on the European price at the gas ceiling” did not have the courage. We asked for the ceiling before the outbreak of the war in Ukraine. “Another piece of the discussion was introduced by the national coordinator of Forza Italia, Antonio Tajani, starting from the RePowerEu plan.” Part of the money from the PNRR could be used to support our energy autonomy. This is an important step forward because we absolutely must achieve self-sufficiency, but this must be done before cutting off the gas supply from Russia. Because today Italy, like Germany, is unable to sustain total autonomy from Russian gas. “The continuous reference to Europe allows us to shift attention to the management of the gas dossier at EU level and to a range of of equally conflicting voices. Starting from the more linear, but also more difficult to sustain, position of the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola. Faced with the war in Ukraine, the European Union must make “courageous choices” such as “banning gas and Russian oil in the EU, because we cannot continue to de facto finance the Russian atrocities committed against our fellow European citizens. “The Russian gas embargo would undoubtedly be an effective solution to try to push Putin to stop. Surely, it would be the more effective international sanction. At the same time, however, it would produce an immediate worsening of the economic crisis, with significant consequences especially for the most exponential countries. osti, always Germany and Italy. Not only. In Brussels there is the awareness that on the gas front the next winter will be complicated and that, even looking at the medium term, the problems are not destined to end soon, because total independence from Russia is set as a goal for 2027. undeniable complications push those who have to make decisions to move with a sufficient dose of pragmatism. It could also be supported by greater transparency in communication but evidently it is preferable to cover a decision already taken with sufficiently ambiguous formulas: gas supplies from Russia cannot be interrupted, and this is considered a priority even in the face of compliance with international sanctions. he decided to hit Moscow. The European Commission has also changed the words with which to manage the puzzle of payment in double currency, euros and rubles, imposed by Putin. Technically, we speak of ‘wording’. Opening a ‘K’ account denominated in the Russian currency according to the EU executive today is not “advisable”. Two days ago the position was clearer: “Anything that goes beyond opening an account with Gazprombank in the currency stipulated in the contract goes beyond” the framework of sanctions against Russia adopted by the EU, spokesmen said. So, if the day before yesterday for the Commission to open a ruble account was in and of itself a violation of sanctions, this is not necessarily the case today. After yesterday the executive vice president Frans Timmermans and the commissioner for the economy Paolo Gentiloni said two apparently different, if not opposite, things on the point, today the chief spokesman Eric Mamer returned, during the daily briefing with the press in Brussels, to answer to the questions of the reporters on the issue, which has not yet been clarified by the Commission, as pointed out by the senior fellow of Bruegel Simone Tagliapietra. The extremely delicate question is what exactly happens to those companies, such as Eni (which is by no means the only one), which open an account in rubles? “We have been very clear – said Mamer today – we have given guidelines to member states that say what they can do: they can open a bank account denominated in the currency stipulated in the contract with Gazprom, make a payment to this account in the currency stipulated in the contract. and declare that they have fulfilled their contractual obligations. We do not believe that doing anything else is advisable. ” Looking at the accurate communication with which Eni has motivated its choice to open the two accounts procedure, which aims to cover it legally not only from Moscow but also from Brussels, there is not all the necessary clarity. To remember Draghi’s words, we are still “in the gray area” that allows us not to close the gas taps and to continue paying for Moscow.

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