23 December 2022 | by Christos Ioannou (BA in International Relations, Malmö University and Independent Bachelors Level Course in Sociology: International Migration and Development and Social and Welfare Policies, Lund University)


The REPowerEU initiative is a joint effort by European Union (EU) Member States to reduce their energy dependence on Russian gas. This synergy amongst European ideo-politically aligned entities aims to minimize this dependence on Russian fossil fuel imports as soon as possible. In light of the war in Ukraine and the Nord Stream 1 pipeline being shut down in September 2022 from the Russian side, this is an ongoing effort attempting to protect not only the EU’s energy security, but also its socioeconomic integrity. In order to protect its democratic principles and its liberal ideology in a time when its greater geopolitical region is under attack by Putin’s aggressive forces, which weaponized the Nord Stream pipelines to apply pressure on Ukraine’s western allies in order to assist his efforts of occupying Ukrainian sovereign territory; EU politicians and leaders had to rethink their values regarding Union’s energy security in the latest years, and reframe their needs into a more reliable context to become independent in this sector. This means, turning to more reliable allies for the supply of energy resources and investing more in renewable energy sources as well as initiating negotiations and dialogue on putting a transnational price cap on gas prices throughout the EU.


Moreover, at the epicentre of the REPowerEU Initiative is a look towards the near future, to accelerate the EU’s green transformation and shift away from fossil fuels altogether, a paradigm of which is through striving for energy efficiency in the transport sector. To do this, the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) plan has been put in place to support the funding for the building of energy projects and reforms throughout all EU Member States. This is just another example of the stance of solidarity that the EU has taken as the Russian aggression unfolds, aiming to boost cooperation on a pan-European scale and stand strong autonomously against the constant unprecedented challenges it keeps facing. The fact that natural gas was cut off from the Russian side, and the sovereign state of Ukraine was invaded, hailed a completely new era in EU-Russian relations, one that sees these two political entities as ideologically and economically distant.


Moving forward, the REPowerEU scheme focuses on new methods for saving energy, diversifying EU’s energy suppliers, accelerating the implementation of renewable energy resources and reducing fossil fuel use as rapidly as possible in the industry and transport sectors, through carbon contracts and smart investments of a supplementary 210 billion euros until 2027 in order to achieve the aforementioned goals. In the short term, and to make sure that the first winter will pass with EU citizens being affected as little as possible by the energy crisis, saving energy and diversifying energy sources regionally and internationally have been the main priorities. Specifically, the EU aims to make electricity cut-offs in public spaces in a plethora of cities and promote the implementation of appropriate fiscal measures to encourage the habit of energy savings, such as reduced VAT rates on energy efficient heating systems, building insulation and appliances and products. What is more, the EU aims for the reinforcement of energy ties with friendly and reliable countries that can provide the safety of fossil fuels until a proper transition to renewable energy is achieved, which is the key for the Union’s energy independence. Potential suppliers of secure LNG are most likely the US and Qatar for the period of time ranging from 2023-2030. In its official statement, the EU focuses on the creation of a gas hub in the Mediterranean basin which will assist EU efforts to diversify not only its suppliers but also the transit routes, by being more engaged with the countries of North Africa and Eastern Mediterranean, through active energy dialogue at the political level.


Additionally, in a strenuous effort to achieve this diversification of energy resources in the soonest time possible, the EU External Strategy has also been recently adopted. This is determined to address not only the energy security crisis in the short term but also to use this challenge as an opportunity for multidimensional and harmonized change to enable EU Member States to take coordinated action in order to counter the global existential issue of climate change. This specific strategy emphasizes on building trustworthy long-term energy partnerships with energy suppliers and puts the EU’s commitment to the “global green and just energy transition’’ at the forefront. For example, through this Strategy, new major hydrogen corridors are envisioned to be developed in the Mediterranean and North Sea. Furthermore, as part of this same plan, the boosting of energy diplomacy and the reduction of energy prices through efficiency as well as the REPowerUkraine plan to assist Ukraine rebuild its war-torn power grid, are all projects that are being worked on in parallel to one another.


As for the acceleration of the application and distribution of renewables, there is an agreement amongst EU Member States within the REPowerEU initiative to make an immense scaling-up and speeding up of the renewable energy industry, buildings and transports to ensure energy independence. More specifically, the REPowerEU initiative contains a more dedicated EU Solar Strategy, which strives to double the capacity of solar photovoltaic technology by 2025 and ramp this up by 2030, having installed 600GW by then. Also, a Solar Rooftop Initiative with a legally binding framework is adopted in order to pressure all EU member states to commit to it on time as for example through the doubling of the rate of deployment of heat pumps and most vitally, an innovative Biomethane Action Plan to increase production of biomethane to 35bcm by 2030, including production through the Common Agricultural Policy.


To end, the REPowerEU plan also sets an ambitious and revolutionary target of 10 million tonnes of domestic renewable hydrogen production and 10 million tonnes of imports by 2030, to replace natural gas, coal and oil in hard-to-decarbonise industries and transport sectors. Moreover, it also advocates for an amendment to the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive, which will recognize renewable energy as an overriding public interest matter as well as a recommendation to tackle slow and complex permitting for major renewable projects. Finally, to help identify specific “go-to’’ areas for building efficient renewable energy infrastructure, a Commission’s recommendation is made through the REPowerEU initiative to shorten and simplify permission-giving processes and lower environmental risk, through the use of the EU’s geographical state-of-the-art digital mapping tool.


In conclusion, through the REPowerEU initiative, the EU stands united in the face of an energy-related multifaceted adversity and stands a better chance to rapidly reduce its dependence on Russian gas, so that it can better protect its ideological and socioeconomic integrity from the Russian-initiated energy security crisis. It can be seen, that the EU is taking a realistic anthropocentric and ecocentric position to overcome the energy crisis challenge, but is also ramping up its efforts for coming up with more technocentric solutions, as for example new hydrogen corridors and the use of its digital mapping tool for more geographically appropriate “go-to’’ areas for the development of renewable energy projects. Thus, it can be said that this is a large-scale ambitious synergetic effort by EU Member States to face common energy and climate-related challenges, and as time goes by and the war in Ukraine still does not seem to be coming to an end, perhaps the REPowerEU initiative will become synonymous to a much needed reformational plan to protect its political and financial integrity in a currently turbulent international order, which is recently plagued by unprecedented border-defiant problems continuously, from the pandemic to the human and energy security issue related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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