Should we worry about the increasing European reliance on energy from Russia?
The energy consumption of the European Union is going to grow over the coming decades. Today about two thirds of natural gas consumed in the EU are already imported and European demand for gas could increase by 50% by 2020 (M. Raymond, 2007; D. Finon, C. Locatelli ; 2008). There has been renewed interestin the issue of European gas import dependence following the gas struggle between Russia and Ukraine during the last week of 2005 and the beginning of 2006 (A. Spanjer ; 2006). Indeed since 2005, Gazprom produces about 93% of Russian natural gas, while controlling 16% of world reserves and is the principal natural gas supplier to 18 countries of the European Union. It also supplies 35 percent ofUkraine’s requirements and 100 percent of Georgia’s (MB. Schaffer; 2008).
However, between anxiety and serenity expert opinions are divided. The Russia's near monopoly of Eurasian distribution system natural gas threat the independent foreign policy of the European Union (MB. Schaffer; 2008). L.Mauring and D. Schear(2006) suggested that threats to intervention military may be not a problem inthe EU-Russia relationship further, developing a growing interest in Russia Common Market of the EU poses new threats from other origins. Although the risk of an economic conflict are obviously more likely than the risk of military intervention, the show of force on the State of Georgia in August 2008 reminds us that the homeland of the Tsars is again a military power and that his expansionistwishes and some dictatorial methods of the old regime remain. As if to confirm these economic risks the same year, Douglas B. Reynolds and M. Kolodziej (2006) declared that the potential re-nationalization of the oil industry of Russia, with a passage from the Russian State from 38% to over 50% in its share is not only intended to limit the need of foreign investors, but also reflects a desire by theKremlin to use the latter as strategic weapon and this strong position in a context of rising global demand since the beginning of the twenty-first century, would allow the Kremlin to exert pressure on potential client countries: former-Soviet republics, Central and Western Europe, some of which are dependent from 90 to 100% of Russian deliveries (R. Fernandez; 2003).
However, a study by Paul J.Saunders (2008) raised the true fact that Europe is not faced with a classic dependency on Russian gas but it exist a real interdependence between the two markets, and if it is true that Europe needs Russian gas it is also true that Russia needs the EU import. This view has repeatedly been affirmed by many experts in Russia's geopolitics (Ivanov, 2003; Monaghan and Montanaro-Jankovski, 2006; CEC,2006).
According to a study of A. Gnezditskaia (2005) another weakness of the Russian energy sector is its impact on the bank sector. Owing to the fact that a large chunk of the best-capitalized Russian banks are owned and/or controlled by oil-related enterprises, the performance of the banking sector is tied to that of the hydrocarbons industry. Moreover, oil enterprises affect bankregulators by imposing lax regulation of these banks, which creates perverse incentives for the banking system as a whole. However it is really difficult to evaluate economically the impact of this proximity.
In 2004 J. Stern reminded that finally the entire political class seems to regularly forget that the USSR has never failed in his duty as a supplier of gas during the Cold War, despite thepronouncements anti-Soviet European countries. But with recent events, including the third Russo-Ukrainian conflict in 2009, it seems clear that even without the target, the EU may be a victim of collateral damage of a dispute between Russia and countries of the former USSR.
It is why both sides are seeking solutions to reduce this interdependence and to avoid another conflict between Russia and...
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