The EU and Ukraine have agreed to seek closer energy ties. President Viktor Yushchenko has been in Brussels for talks aimed at avoiding more disruption of Russian gas supplies.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said Ukraine’s gas transit system, after two winters of delivery problems, needs work: “We are all determined that this does not become an annual event.” A multilateral high-level conference on energy development is scheduled for March 23. The Ukrainian president said his discussions with Barroso had been about integration with the European wholesale gas market, the integration of Ukraine’s electrical system and harmonisation with Europe set to take place “in the near future”. Meanwhile, Hungary was hosting a conference on the Nabucco gas pipeline project. Budapest said in the interest of energy security to reduce dependence on Russian gas, it was “time for the EU to take on the (financial) risks private companies are not willing to take”. The Czech EU presidency said Russian pipeline plans are a direct threat to Nabucco, which would take gas from the Caspian Sea or the Middle East across Turkey to the EU. Hungary called on the bloc provide the ten billion euro Nabucco project with up to 300 million euros in financing within months and urged the European banks to extend loans.