Policy brief

Can Europe Survive Without Russia’s Natural Gas? Maybe, But It Should Not Have To

Eu Russia Gas Gmfus Goldthau

Source: Ulrichulrich /​Wikimedia Commons

18 Mar 2015, 
published in 
German Marshall Fund of the United States

The ongoing Ukraine crisis has further politicized Russian energy trade with Europe and added a geopolitical dimension to already strained Eurasian gas relations. Fearing natural gas interruptions and Moscow’s political influence, Europe’s leaders are keen to phase out Russian gas. But Europe will not have to survive without Russian gas due to the size of its market, its attractiveness for Gazprom and other suppliers, and for the crucial importance to Russia for gas exports. Rather than aiming at curbing Russian gas imports, Europeans should make sure that if they buy Gazprom’s molecules, the latter do not come attached to Moscow’s political agenda. For this, the completion of the internal market is a precondition, competition policy represents the tool, and the Commission is the watchdog waving the big regulatory stick if required. This is, eventually, what the goal of the much-debated Energy Union should be.

To read the full policy paper, please visit German Marshall Fund of the United States.