IEA head Fatih Birol warns that member states could abandon solidarity to secure their own gas supplies
The worsening energy crisis may lead to EU nations casting aside solidarity for their own energy security, the head of the International Energy Agency (IEA), Fatih Birol, told the Financial Times.
In an interview with the news outlet, Birol said he was afraid that “a wild west scenario” is in the making among countries in the bloc, in which they might limit energy exports to their neighbors in order to protect their own domestic supplies.
“The implications will be very bad for energy, very bad for the economy, but extremely bad politically… If Europe fails this test in energy, it can go beyond energy implications,” Birol was cited as saying. He added that the EU faces “two scenarios,” and the future of the bloc depends on whether member states adhere to one of its founding principles – solidarity.
“EU and members will work in solidarity, supporting each other… or there is another scenario, if everybody is for himself… One of the founding values of the EU is solidarity,” and abandoning this “will negatively affect the EU’s weight across the world,” he said.
The EU has been grappling with an energy crisis, with natural gas prices surging 400% at their peak during 2022.
With Russian supplies dwindling amid sanctions on the country and Moscow’s counter-sanctions, member states have turned to alternative energy sources, including LNG from the US and Qatar. Brussels has also introduced policies aimed at reducing gas consumption, storing up supplies for the winter, and sharing among the countries in the bloc.
The latter measure will only work if member states establish bilateral pacts to share gas, analysts say. However, not all EU countries have these arrangements, and earlier this month, reports emerged that Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Poland had refused to engage in talks on gas-sharing deals.
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