European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday proposed a mechanism for efforts to wean itself off its reliance on Russian gas following the invasion of Ukraine. Leyen made the comments while addressing a session on the occasion of the 120th anniversary of Bocconi University in Milan.
Leyen commended Italian efforts by saying “Italy used to import 40 per cent of its gas from Russia, now it’s only down to 10 per cent” while adding that Europe needs to step up the divorce from Russian energy.
One such initiative is the “REPowerEU is our new plan to overcome energy dependency on Russia. 9 billion Euros in clean energy investment are to be devoted to Italy. This is our short-term goal: to boost and accelerate clean transition all over the EU. Our goal is for the European industry to be leaders in the clean energy transition, so we are pushing for the idea of a Sovereignty Fund,” Leyen said.
She further highlighted the importance of renewable energy “if we speed up the renewable energy program, we can replace 14 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Russia. Renewable energy is not just good for the planet, but for our independence too: they are homegrown and affordable compared to fossil fuel.”
She commented on the US initiative of IRA: “It is tax breaks that could lead to discrimination and it is production subsidies that could discriminate European companies.” She added however that they were with the US to challenge the Chinese monopoly on raw materials.