Poland holds up EU-Russia talks
Russia supplies a quarter of Europe's oil and gas. Poland has vetoed the start of talks between the EU and Russia on a new partnership agreement covering energy, trade and human rights.BBC
The move means that it is unlikely the talks can be launched as planned at an EU-Russia summit in two weeks' time. Poland says Russia must first lift a ban on Polish food imports and ratify a treaty on trade in energy products.
Officials say the EU's credibility will be damaged if a common position is not reached before the 24 November summit.
Russia supplies a quarter of the oil and gas consumed in the EU, and the proportion is set to rise sharply in coming decades. Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski said on Sunday that Russia was violating the current EU-Russia co-operation agreement by banning Polish meat, and many other foods.
"We would like EU member states to show solidarity with Poland regarding Russia," he said, ahead of Monday's meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels. After Poland wielded its veto, External Affairs Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said she hoped that it would still be possible for the EU to go into the EU-Russia summit with an agreed common position.
However Poland "has not lifted its reservations," she said.
Poland's insistence that Russia should ratify the Energy Charter Treaty - which would help foreign companies invest in Russia's energy market - is no longer shared by all EU countries.
Russia has signed the treaty, and the EU has been trying for years to get Moscow to ratify it, without success. The European Commission is now aiming to enshrine many of the treaty's principles into the new partnership and co-operation agreement with Russia, once the old one comes to an end next year.
Poland threatens to veto EU-Russia energy pact
(Hattip, Rufus,Elephant Emeritus) BioPact
"The longterm viability of the biofuels future depends on a great variety of factors. One of the more important ones is the security of fossil energy supplies. If the energy security brought by oil and gas comes under threat, the political will to promote and invest in renewable biofuels will become stronger. Bioenergy and biofuels - produced locally or imported from the global South - offer a strategy to diversify the portfolio of energy sources, thereby enhancing the security of supplies.
This is why we track energy security issues in the EU. The longterm picture doesn't look good, with increasing tensions over the Union's energy relationship with Russia. The Russian Federation accounts for some 44% of EU gas imports (25% of total consumption) and is the EU's single largest external supplier of oil, standing at 30% of total imports (27% of total consumption). These shares are expected to grow as the EU's North Sea reserves decline.
But with Russia gradually becoming a 'petropolitist' state that doesn't hesitate to use its energy resources as a political weapon (earlier post), it is no surprise to hear that pipeline politics once again dominate EU-Russia relations 10 days before a major energy summit between the two blocks, as Poland threatens to veto the renewal of a 1997 energy agreement with the Kremlin.
EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on 13 November will discuss building closer economic ties with Russia but their efforts could face a veto from Warsaw, which wants a tougher line taken with Moscow over energy. A ten-year old Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) [*.pdf] is being re-negotiated as the EU and Russia prepare to meet for a 24 November summit in Helsinki.
Failure to reach an agreement on the Energy Charter Treaty, which Russia seems to have definitely refused to ratify, has prompted the EU to seek incorporating the Charter's principles into the broader PCA. The principles include granting mutual access to energy markets and minimum guarantees for energy investments and transit.
But Wozniak insists that Russia signs the Transit Protocol of the Energy Charter, which is the most controversial part for Moscow. "We feel very unsafe in terms of energy supplies," Polish Economy Minister Piotr Wozniak told reporters on 10 November:"