Brussels Playbook: Russian gas roulette — Disaster powers — Orbán does Dallas – POLITICO


LIVING THE SIMPLE LIFE: For EU leaders confronted with the double whammy of the price of dwelling and power crises, Diogenes — the Greek thinker who preached the advantages of a easy life — is the person of the hour.

Stand out of my daylight: The son of a mint grasp, Diogenes was banished from his residence city for “debasement of currency” — or what we’d name spiking inflation. He moved to Athens and determined to pursue an ascetic way of life, chopping consumption to a minimal and making a advantage of poverty.

ENERGY SAVING PLANS, RANKED: Fast ahead some 2,400 years. Facing skyrocketing costs and Russia’s gas cuts, EU leaders at the moment are additionally preaching the worth of a easy life to their constituents, with much less consumption, journey and air con and fewer sizzling showers. Below, Playbook and our Pro Energy colleagues Victor Jack and Antonia Zimmermann define and fee the power saving plans of a few of the EU’s greatest power customers. (You may learn extra right here.)


The plan: Berlin doesn’t but have a binding plan to slash power consumption — regardless of being the principle advocate of an EU-wide binding power discount goal, which ministers agreed final month. In late July, Germany issued a set of suggestions, a few of which it says will change into legally binding, however it’s unclear when.

In the meantime, Germany’s power saving incentive consists of a surtax on gas costs that buyers should pay this winter, which is able to cross-subsidize gas storage and cheaper gas contracts for trade. The apparent danger is that folks will solely really feel the pinch of their pockets when it’s too late.

The impression: Germany is especially depending on Russian imports, accounting for a few third of its gas.

Rating: True to cliché, Germany prefers telling different international locations what to do earlier than doing a lot itself. Not to say that the leaders of Germany’s CDU and SPD are among the many major culprits liable for getting the EU into its Russian power dependency mess within the first place.

Score: 1/10


The plan: France is engaged on an “energy sobriety plan” to be offered on the finish of September. Among the measures, the federal government plans to show off illuminated road promoting — a rule that already applies in small cities, which critics say isn’t correctly enforced.

The impression: The authorities says it can slash power consumption by 10 p.c by 2024 in comparison with 2019.

Rating: Not a lot is understood about France’s different deliberate measures. Energy Transition Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher has indicated the federal government goals to ban shops from leaving their doorways open whereas air con and heating are working. However, the plan will solely be offered on the finish September, after the cooling season is over.

Score: 5/10


The plan: None up to now. Despite Italy being one of many EU international locations most depending on Russian gas — with round 40 p.c of its provides imported from the nation final yr — Ecological Transition Minister Roberto Cingolani final week stated there can be no “draconian” measures to tamp down demand.

But in July, the federal government introduced it was drafting a financial savings plan for emergencies that would embrace limiting heating to 19°C in winter and cooling to 27°C in summer season, decreasing road lighting at evening and shutting retailers early, based on early drafts seen by native media.

The impression: Italy is trying to scale back 7 p.c of gas demand by March, partly by boosting its coal-powered era. Cingolani additionally insisted Italy “would be fine” till February even when Russia cuts off gas provides utterly, as Rome has secured a raft of latest gas offers in current months.

Rating: Not everybody’s as optimistic because the minister. Italy’s National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development final month urged authorities intervention to cut back demand. With the nation heading for an election in September, the difficulty is prone to fall to the brand new administration.

Score: 3/10


The plan: Spain has taken a extra radical method than different EU international locations, this week issuing a decree ordering companies to restrict ​​air con to 27°C in summer season and heating to 19°C this winter. The authorities additionally instructed retailers to put in automated locks to forestall doorways being left open whereas heating programs are working, and be sure that shopfronts go darkish from 10 p.m. Similar measures are already in place for public buildings.

The impression: Spain will get solely round 10 p.c of its gas from Russia. Nonetheless, Madrid stated such adjustments in habits can “reduce the demand for gas and oil by 5 percent in the short term,” and would assist the nation obtain its aim of chopping gas consumption by 7 p.c by March.

Rating: So far, Spain is the one main EU nation to stroll the stroll on power financial savings. But delays in constructing new interconnectors (wanted to export extra gas from Spain to France and the remainder of Europe) imply the EU received’t profit as a lot from Spain’s power financial savings or from its six LNG terminals because it may.

Score: 8/10


The plan: Warsaw hasn’t put ahead a nationwide plan to save lots of power but. With Russian gas provides already all the way down to zero, a lot of Poland’s political debate is concentrated on the specter of a looming coal scarcity that would depart some households unable to maintain heat this winter. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki promised subsidies to owners to raised insulate their houses and buy cleaner heating programs.

Rating: Poland solely makes use of gas for 9 p.c of its power combine. Coal shortages may hit the nation a lot more durable as analysts worry Poland will discover itself quick between 1 million and a couple of million tons of coal over the winter.

Score: 2/10


The plan: No plan up to now. Last month, the commerce ministry launched an power financial savings “manual” with suggestions for households. Reportedly, the federal government is getting ready to shorten the official season when buildings have to be heated by regulation. Prague has stated it will increase coal in an emergency.

The impression: The Czech Republic is virtually completely depending on gas from Russia, with most of it going to trade and round one-quarter used for heating households.

Rating: The Czech Republic’s common gas consumption per resident is 20 p.c increased than the EU common, that means there ought to be room for important demand reductions.

Score: 2/10


HOW RUSSIAN GAS GAMES SEND EU MARKETS HAYWIRE: It’s usually stated that hindsight is 20/20 — and within the debate over how a lot Russia was and is in charge for top EU gas costs since final yr, POLITICO is taking a step again to evaluate the scenario.

Main takeaway: Even as German leaders had been insisting final yr that Gazprom was honoring all its contracts, the numbers counsel Russia’s chief Vladimir Putin was already manipulating markets to drive up costs, whereas emptying gas storage amenities.

By the numbers: POLITICO’s power reporter America Hernández crunched the numbers on falling Russian gas flows and rising EU costs for the previous yr, with knowledge from the Intercontinental Exchange, European gas grid operators ENTSOG and a serving to hand from the analysts on the Bruegel assume tank in Brussels.

The image that emerges … is of a sluggish hunger of Gazprom flows west starting a yr in the past, with feedback from Putin alternately assuaging or exacerbating dealer fears through (unkept) guarantees to fill gas storage amenities, bombastic claims that EU local weather coverage is in charge for top costs, and a repeated insistence that delays on the Nord Stream 1 and a couple of pipelines are what’s stopping extra Russian gas deliveries — whereas transit through Ukraine is underused. 

Other elements at play: Some of the best worth spikes up to now this yr have come not from information of gas shutoffs to main clients, however moderately the Western response to Russia’s battle on Ukraine. Exxon pulling out of a serious Russian gas export facility Sakhalin-1 brought about the EU benchmark TTF hub to hit €158 per megawatt-hour. Meanwhile, plans out of Brussels to cut back Russian gas reliance by two-thirds and implement necessary gas storage noticed costs briefly crack €345 in intraday buying and selling. Look out for America’s full story, on-line later immediately.


PUTIN-ERDOĞAN MEETING TODAY: Putin will maintain talks along with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Sochi immediately, the Kremlin introduced — the second such assembly in a month. On the agenda: the deal on liberating up Ukrainian grain, together with Russian backing for a Turkish offensive towards Syrian Kurdish forces, based on Voice of America.

MORE GRAIN SHIPS SCHEDULED TO LEAVE UKRAINE: Meanwhile, three extra ships carrying corn will depart Ukraine immediately, based on the Joint Coordination Centre — established by the U.N., Turkey, Russia and Ukraine to coordinate meals exports from Ukrainian ports. The JCC has licensed the departure of two vessels from Chernomorsk and one from Odesa, carrying a complete of 58,041 tons of corn by means of the maritime humanitarian hall below the Black Sea Grain Initiative, the JCC introduced final evening in a press release.

ZELENSKYY CALLS OUT EU OVER AID DELAY: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy used his nightly handle on Thursday to take goal at delayed EU funds. “I remind some leaders of the European Union that Ukrainian pensioners, our displaced persons, our teachers … cannot be held hostage to their indecision or bureaucracy,” Zelenskyy stated. “€8 billion for Ukraine are currently suspended. And such an artificial delay of macro-financial assistance to our state is either a crime or a mistake.” The Ukrainian president stated he wouldn’t identify the EU nation he believed was liable for the hold-up.

ARE THE RUSSIA SANCTIONS WORKING? POLITICO’s Jamie Dettmer considers that query.

MEANWHILE, AS MOSCOW’S DISTRACTED … clashes are rocking Nagorno-Karabakh, stories Gabriel Gavin, who’s on the bottom within the contested area and has this high story on the battle.


BRUSSELS WANTS MORE POWERS TO DEAL WITH CLIMATE DISASTERS: Preparing the EU for a warmer world ought to contain increasing the European Commission’s catastrophe response powers, Janez Lenarčič, the bloc’s head of disaster administration, instructed our colleague Zia Weise in an interview. 

The T phrase: “When and if there is a decision to go for treaty change, I’m sure this should be part of the discussions — how to strengthen the disaster response capacity, including the decision-making capacity on the European level, which we now don’t have,” Lenarčič stated. Read the complete piece right here for POLITICO Energy and Climate, Sustainability and Mobility Pros.

Playing with fireplace: It may make sense to have a centralized disaster response to assist with every part from wildfires to floods. But if Brussels goes to be as sluggish and ineffective at combating fires because it has been shopping for vaccines, it is likely to be higher to depart that duty to regional and nationwide governments.

WHAT NOW FOR THE EU’S TAIWAN (NON) POLICY? By mounting a de-facto four-day blockade of Taiwan, Beijing is setting in movement a rethink of the EU’s method to the area — not least in Germany, which has outpaced the remainder of the bloc in creating an financial dependency on China.

Ring the alarm: “These tensions are also a wake-up call for [Germany and the EU],” Michael Roth, who served in Angela Merkel’s Cabinet as Europe minister, stated in a tweet. “Our economic dependence on [China] is immense … our risk calculation has to change — especially for [German] corporations. We have to make our production/supply chains generally more independent of authoritarian regimes [and] thus more crisis-proof.”

The newest: China’s overseas ministry stated in a single day that it has lodged diplomatic complaints to EU international locations and the EU’s overseas affairs chief Josep Borrell over G7 statements on Taiwan. Reuters has extra.

Meanwhile, within the US: Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi each insisted that nothing has modified in relation to Washington’s place on Taiwan. The feedback got here after Pelosi visited Taiwan, sparking outrage from Beijing, which then deployed planes and fired reside missiles close to the island.

Now learn this: Janka Oertel, Asia director on the European Council on Foreign Relations, lays out the case for why Europe ought to push again towards China’s narrative on Taiwan.

DUTCH FARMERS VS. RUTTE: Dutch farmers’ organizations are immediately assembly with Prime Minister Mark Rutte and a mediator for a primary spherical of session on plans to chop nitrogen emissions, which have sparked big protests throughout the nation. POLITICO’s Eline Schaart has a primer on immediately’s assembly right here.

The secret to Rutte’s longevity: As of this week, Rutte surpassed the document set by his predecessor Ruud Lubbers to change into the longest-serving Dutch prime minister in historical past. Author Ben Coates considers how he has managed to remain on the high for therefore lengthy on this considerate op-ed.

WHAT HAPPENS TO THE FRANCO-ITALIAN LOVE AFFAIR NOW? With the departure of Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, France fears transalpine tensions shall be again, stories our colleague Giorgio Leali.

ORBÁN DOES DALLAS: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán took the stage on the Conservative Political Action Conference in Texas on Thursday, saying: “I’m here to tell you that we should unite our forces.” Predictably, he railed towards immigration, globalism and gender fluidity, and claimed an ideological “battle for Western civilization” can be fought in Washington and Brussels. “The globalists can all go to hell,” Orbán stated to enthusiastic applause — although the conference corridor was half empty, our colleagues Natalie Allison and Lamar Johnson report from Dallas

Lest we overlook: Orbán’s speech on the three-day CPAC convention got here amid outcry within the EU over his July 23 speech through which he railed towards “mixed-race” international locations, which prompted one among his high aides to resign and liken him to a Nazi.

Besties: Earlier within the week, on Tuesday, former U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed Orbán to his golf membership in Bedminster, New Jersey, referring to the Hungarian as a “friend.” Read the complete report from CPAC right here.

**As summer season ends, Europe’s agri-food sectors brace for a chilly winter. Will Europe be capable of guarantee international meals safety whereas leveraging technological innovation to design a greener future for European farmers and customers? Join us in Paris or on-line to have interaction with senior policymakers on this and far more. Find out who’s coming to France and register right here immediately.*


FRIDAY LISTEN: In a bumper version of POLITICO’s EU Confidential podcast earlier than the summer season break, we clarify the monkeypox outbreak in Europe and preview the largest lobbying battle brewing in Brussels between Big Tech platforms and telecom operators.

Friday humorous: Meanwhile, Paul Dallison’s final Declassified column earlier than the summer season break is a doozy: “Liz ‘2 internets’ Truss wants to change the online world.”

BIRTHDAYS: European Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis; Nuno Brito, Portuguese ambassador to the U.Okay. and former ambassador to the EU; French National Rally chief Marine Le Pen; Best for Britain and Pandemic Action Network co-founder Eloise Todd; Former U.S. Ambassador to Denmark Rufus Gifford, now chief of protocol of the United States; Hun Sen, prime minister of Cambodia.

Celebrating Saturday: European Commissioner Didier Reynders; MEPs Sara Skyttedal and Ramona Strugariu; Former MEP Lars Adaktusson, now a member of the Riksdag.

Celebrating Sunday: MEP Nils Torvalds; POLITICO’s Hans von der Burchard; Former MEP Bart Staes; APCO’s Rachele Ciavarella; Matt Mazonkey from Airbus; Croatian politician Valter Drandić.

THANKS TO: America Hernández, Stuart Lau, Eddy Wax and our producer Grace Stranger.

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