Brussels: The European Commission has announced a 210 billion euro ($220bn) plan to end its dependency on Russian fossil fuels in a span of five years and speeds up its transition to green energy. The move comes as the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, Europe’s top gas supplier, has prompted the EU to rethink its energy policies amid sharpened concerns of supply shocks.
“We are taking our ambition to yet another level to make sure that we become independent from Russian fossil fuels as quickly as possible,” EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday in Brussels announcing the package, dubbed REPowerEU.
The measures include a mix of EU laws, non-binding schemes, and recommendations to governments in the EU’s 27 member countries, who are largely in charge of their national energy policies. Moscow supplies 40 percent of the bloc’s gas and 27 percent of its imported oil, and EU countries are struggling to agree on sanctions against the latter. An EU ban on coal from Russia is due to start in August, and the bloc has pledged to try to reduce demand for Russian gas by two-thirds by year’s end.
The proposed investments include 86 billion euros ($90bn) for renewable energy and 27 billion euros ($28bn) for hydrogen infrastructure, 29 billion euros ($30bn) for power grids, and 56 billion euros ($59bn) for energy savings and heat pumps. “RePowerEU will help us to save more energy, to accelerate the phasing out of fossil fuels and, most importantly, to kick-start investments on a new scale,” von der Leyen said.
Brussels wants countries to finance the measures using the EU’s Covid-19 recovery fund, which contains more than 200 billion euros ($209bn) of unspent loans.
To spearhead the plans, the Commission proposed a higher legally-binding target to get 45 percent of EU energy from renewable sources by 2030, replacing its current 40 percent proposal. The legally binding targets require approval from EU countries and legislators.