From the Green Deal to REPower EU

What about the EU’s Southern fossil gas suppliers?

Policy Brief


The EU’s external dimension of the green deal published at the start of 2021 focuses on a just green transition, calls for the phasing out of harmful fossil fuel subsidies and discourages further investments into fossil fuel-based energy infrastructure projects in third countries. However, since the invasion of Russia in Ukraine one year later, the European Union has been wrestling to find alternatives for Russian gas.

The attention of the Member States and the European Commission turned towards its fossil fuel exporters Algeria and Egypt, with energy diplomacy doing overtime. The focus of the EU has been on

1) agreeing middle to long term fossil gas contracts

2) importing green hydrogen

This shift towards middle to long term fossil gas contracts could have an impact at a crucial moment, with the COP27 in Egypt being a disappointment to many. The EU’s actorness, including in its neighbourhood, is vital to achieve its claimed climate leadership and convincing others to follow. Also the focus on green hydrogen could jeopardise the EU’s trustworthiness.

Focusing on the export of green hydrogen for its own needs before having fulfilled the renewable energy needs of its Southern Neighbourhood partners seems to repeat the mistakes the EU made during the 2000s. The EU had been accused by its Southern Neighbourhood of green colonialism when investing in renewable energy projects such as Desertec in its South for export to the EU. Instead the EU should focus on ‘no regret’ options such as investing in an enabling framework to fulfil its fossil fuel exporting partners needs of more energy efficiency and renewable energy, as well as technical assistance to tackle methane leaks and to address venting and flaring. This could liberate more fossil gas for export in the shorter term, prevent fossil fuel lock-in for its partners while being in line with its climate leadership role.

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