EU strategic autonomy: Four energy crisis challenges

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Series Details PE 747.099
Publication Date April 2023
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That the EU imports almost 60 % of its energy shows that real EU strategic autonomy in energy is far from achieved. The current energy crisis poses a risk to all four EU energy policy objectives. Crisis in the energy market is causing public and private debt and inflation, which risks destabilizing the European energy market. While diversifying gas imports away from Russia reduces dependency on one big supplier, reliance on several other third countries implies new supply risks. Although high fossil fuel prices may accelerate the transition towards renewable energy, short-term investment in alternative fossil fuels and energy price caps risk diluting incentives for the green transition. Finally, improved cross-border energy network connectivity is susceptible to the yet untested risk of a lack of solidarity between Member States in the event of a structural supply crisis. Now that energy policy is increasingly determined by geopolitics, mitigating these risks is essential.

So far, the EU has managed these four challenges quite well, although concerns remain. Diversification of supply, filling gas storage and a relatively mild winter have limited the impact of the energy crisis. Initially, most responses to the crisis came from national governments, safeguarding their national strategic autonomy in energy matters. Member States took the lead with short-term measures to diversify supply and mitigate the effect of rising prices, mostly according to national energy priorities. The EU has also reacted swiftly, with a range of strategies and practical measures designed to increase coherence and EU strategic autonomy. The measures focus both on the internal autonomy of a functioning and well connected internal market and on the external autonomy of supply security in a global market. One of the biggest challenges will be to enhance strategic autonomy for renewable energy, for instance by producing renewables in the EU, while managing dependence on imports of the necessary raw materials.

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