Cartoon character Bob the Builder was supporting EU energy ministers at talks in Luxembourg. Badly-insulated buildings in the EU are wasting energy – 270 billion euros-worth every year, according to industry consultant Ecofys’s estimates. Bob said better insulation could cut carbon emissions, create jobs and reduce growing European dependency for energy on outside supply, notably Russia. Commissioner Andris Piebalgs’ line was also constructive:
“I think the process is not worth giving up but getting on what we have now because at this stage we are getting gas from Russia, there are agreements in place and we should build on top of it, so as a result I see that the member states will gain and Russia will gain.”
The EU is pressing Moscow to ratify an Energy Charter that would oblige it to open its vast gas pipeline network to third-party suppliers. While Bob was rubbing elbows with the ministers, the Russian ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, was urging diplomacy at the European Parliament:
“To achieve the goals of promoting mutual and beneficial energy security, we need to prevent or counter attemps of reviving cold-war-era style of addressing relations with Russia.” Russian energy muscle flexed across Ukraine this winter whipped up talk of integrating EU policies.
Supply security is on the front burner at a leaders’ summit next week. But analysts say differing positions make relinquishing national sovereignty over energy a longer-term goal.