Beggars can’t be choosers – Europe needs to smarten up its energy security

(EurActiv, 19 Feb 2024) The energy transition is no longer only important to fight climate change, but it has become a geopolitical necessity and a security issue, argue Louise van Schaik and Giulia Cretti.

Louise van Schaik is head of unit for EU and global affairs at the Clingendael Institute of International Relations in the Netherlands. Giulia Cretti is a research fellow at Clingendael.

Energy security and the geopolitics of transitioning away from fossil fuels took center stage at the Munich Security Conference, the premium gathering on international security.

The risks of depending on fossil energy from petrostates, critical raw materials and nuclear power value chains are undeniable concerns because dependencies can and have already been weaponised. To boost strategic autonomy in the energy field, the EU needs to accelerate green tech leadership, develop a credible hydrogen market and cooperate in a mutually beneficial way with more countries.

For decades, Europeans have cultivated relations with petrostates misled by the belief that energy dependencies can foster cooperation between producing and consuming countries. The agreement on Nord Stream 2 marked the apex of this liberal understanding championed by the Germany of Angela Merkel.

The European energy crisis that followed the Russian invasion of Ukraine proved that this system does not work and that energy can be used as a weapon. This liability stretches beyond Russia since the EU imports fossil energy from many other countries that are autocratic.

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EurActiv, 19 Feb 2024: Beggars can’t be choosers – Europe needs to smarten up its energy security