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EU focuses on energy supply under Czech presidency

The EU on Wednesday set out a harder focus on energy amid Russia's war in Ukraine, as the Czech Republic presented its priorities upon taking over the bloc's presidency. "We need to prepare for further disruptions of gas supply, even a complete cut-off from Russia," European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen told the European…

Petr Fiala

The EU on Wednesday set out a harder focus on energy amid Russia’s war in Ukraine, as the Czech Republic presented its priorities upon taking over the bloc’s presidency.

“We need to prepare for further disruptions of gas supply, even a complete cut-off from Russia,” European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament.

Her commission is set to unveil an emergency plan on energy supply security on July 20 that would help redirect gas flows within the EU to “where it is most needed”.

“We have to provide for European solidarity. And we need to protect the (EU) single market as well as industry’s supply chains,” von der Leyen said.

The Czech EU presidency tweeted that it had called an extraordinary meeting of EU energy ministers for July 26, following the commission plan.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala told the MEPs that the plan should mirror the EU solidarity shown during the height of the Covid crisis.

“The path that the Czech presidency wants to take is primarily to work on common European projects that free us from our dependence on Russia,” he said.

Von der Leyen and Fiala both emphasised that the restructuring of the EU’s energy market must keep climate-friendly policies at its core, even at a time of sky-high inflation and short-term risks to supply.

The European Union has launched a 300-billion-euro ($310-billion) plan to wean itself off Russian fossil fuel supplies, and is also investing heavily to transform the market toward renewable sources.

The two leaders also said steps toward Ukraine’s post-war reconstruction would be made under the Czech presidency of the EU, which runs to the end of the year.

Von der Leyen said she would convene a high-level conference on that issue after September, together with Germany as current head of the G7.

“Never before have we mastered such a colossal reconstruction challenge. So we need all hands on deck,” she said.

Ukraine has said the cost to build its war-ravaged country is at least $750 billion.

France’s EU presidency in the first half of this year was dominated by the war in Ukraine, which began with Russia’s invasion on February 24.

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