The EU imports more than half of all the energy it consumes. Its import dependency is particularly high for crude oil (90%) and natural gas (69%). The total import bill is more than €1 billion per day.
Many countries are also heavily reliant on a single supplier, including some that rely entirely on Russia for their natural gas. This dependence leaves them vulnerable to supply disruptions, whether caused by political or commercial disputes, or infrastructure failure. For instance, a 2009 gas dispute between Russia and transit country Ukraine left many EU countries with severe shortages.
In response to these concerns, the European Commission released its Energy Security Strategy in May 2014. The Strategy aims to ensure a stable and abundant supply of energy for European citizens and the economy.
Short term measures
As part of the Strategy, 38 European countries, including all EU countries, carried out energy security stress tests in 2014. They simulated two energy supply disruption scenarios for a period of one or six months:
- a complete halt of Russian gas imports to the EU
- a disruption of Russian gas imports through the Ukrainian transit route.
The tests showed that a prolonged supply disruption would have a substantial impact on the EU. Eastern EU countries and Energy Community countries would be particularly affected. The report also confirmed that if all countries cooperate with each other, consumers would remain supplied even in the event of a six month gas disruption.
Based on the analysis of the stress tests, a number of short-term measures were carried out in preparation for the winter of 2014-2015. Furthermore, the EU's Gas Coordination Group continues to monitor developments in the gas supply throughout the year. The Commission also asked EU and Energy Community countries to prepare regional energy security preparedness plans, which were reviewed and adopted in 2015.
The Strategy also addresses long-term security of supply challenges. It proposes actions in five key areas:
- Increasing energy efficiency and reaching the proposed 2030 energy and climate goals. Priorities in this area should focus on buildings and industry, which use 40% and 25% of total energy respectively in the EU. It is also important to help consumers lower their energy consumption, for example with clear billing information and smart energy meters
- Increasing energy production in the EU and diversifying supplier countries and routes. This includes further deployment of renewables, sustainable production of fossil fuels, and safe nuclear energy where this option is chosen. It also entails negotiating effectively with current major energy partners such as Russia, Norway, and Saudi Arabia, as well as new partners like countries in the Caspian Basin region
- Completing the internal energy market and building missing infrastructure links to respond quicklyto supply disruptions and redirect energy across the EU to where it is needed
- Speaking with one voice in external energy policy, including ensuring that EU countries inform the European Commission early on about planned agreements with non-EU countries that may affect the EU's security of supply
- Strengthening emergency and solidarity mechanisms and protecting critical infrastructure. This includes more coordination between EU countries to use existing storage facilities, develop reverse flows, conduct risk assessments, and put in place security of supply plans at regional and EU level.