Ursula von der Leyen criticised for election ‘threat
We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has come under fire for holding meetings with fossil fuel firms during the energy crisis, and it comes amid a corruption scandal that has rocked the European Parliament. As Europe struggled to cope with surging wholesale gas costs sparked by Russia’s war in Ukraine and Vladimir Putin’s supply cuts to Europe, fossil fuel companies were raking in record profits while households across the continent saw their bills surge.
As she scrambled to address the issue, a report by the Corporate Europe Observatory found that Ms Von der Leyen met with oil and gas CEOs serveal times. Meanwhile, an analysis by Friends of the Earth Europe, published back in June 2022 revealed that the President’s Commission had met over 500 times with the fossil fuel industry, or with groups with fossil fuel membership, between December 2019 and May 2022.
However, it does not come as a surprise that European oil and gas majors and energy giants are wielding influence over the bloc, having always had considerable lobbying firepower in Brussels.EU institutions have also frequently given them many seats at the table when it came to the bloc’s energy policy or priority investments, according to the Corporate Europe Observatory.
But the trend has appeared to speed up amid the Ukraine war, in which the fossil fuel industry had more than a hundred disclosed meetings (105) with the European Commission, the report found. Lucas Febraro, Communications Director for DiEM25, described the scale of lobbying in Brussels amid the Ukraine war as “incredible”.
Speaking on DiEM25 Youtube channel, he said: “The number of lobbyists that have recorded meetings with members of Parliament and the Commissions boggles the mind.
Pointing to the Corporate Europe Obersrvatory’s research, he added: “The CEOs of giant fossil companies were in the room with Usrula von der Leyen drafting the communiqué that the Commission put out which outlined its response to the energy crisis. This was in March, so very early in the Russian invasion.
“These are people that are in the room with someone who was unelected to begin with, but runs the Commission. They get free access to her office essentially. Not only that, but they get to draft a document on her desk. It is really unbelievable.”
Campaigners say that due to the urgent need to address the climate crisis, fossil fuels should be phased out as quickly as possible. By meeting with fossil fuel firms, it could imply that the oil and gas majors were attempting to let polluting energy sources keep flowing for longer than the bloc might have initially intended
While the EU does plan to become completely carbon-free by 2050, it currently views gas as a transition fuel and still relies on it to power its economy. This is why the EU raced to boost its gas supplies from alternative suppliers to slash ties with Putin amid the war and secure orders from more reliable trading partners.
Before the war in Ukraine, the bloc got 40 percent of its gas from Russia. But critics say the green transition should not involve getting its hands on more fossil fuels, and instead could be seen as an opportunity to accelerate the green transition.
In a speech made by Ms von der Leyen in March 2022, she said: “Our investments today will make us more independent tomorrow. I am thinking, first and foremost, about our energy security. We simply cannot rely so much on a supplier that explicitly threatens us. This is why we reached out to other global suppliers.
“And they responded. Norway is stepping up. In January, we had a record supply of liquified natural gas (LNG). We are building new LNG terminals and working on interconnectors. But in the long run, it is our switch to renewables and hydrogen that will make us truly independent.
New dino species with over 400 teeth inside ‘duck-style’ mouth found [REPORT]
Brits to be paid £10 to stop using energy-guzzling appliances tonight [INSIGHT]
Energy supply will be ‘tighter’ tonight but Brits can be paid to help [REVEAL]
“We have to accelerate the green transition. Because every kilowatt-hour of electricity Europe generates from solar, wind, hydropower or biomass reduces our dependency on Russian gas and other energy sources.”
However, there could be a major hurdle the EU needs to overcome as it races to secure alternative supplies, and it is linked to a major corruption scandal that has shaken up the European Parliament.
In a saga known as Qatargate, Brussels has been plunged into a crisis after Greek MEP and vice-president of the European Parliament, Eva Kaili, was arrested after police seized more than €900,000 belonging to her and her husband.
She is one of at least 10 EU officials under investigation over concerns that cash has been used by the Qatari state in an attempt to influence decision-making inside Brussels. As allegations get heaped on Doha, which the EU turned to gas supplies for amid a Russian squeeze, Qatar has warned that this threatens to jeaprodise its energy deals with the bloc.
A Qatari diplomat warned last month: “The decision to impose such a discriminatory restriction that limits dialogue and cooperation on Qatar before the legal process has ended will negatively affect regional and global security cooperation, as well as ongoing discussions around global energy poverty and security.
“We firmly reject the allegations associating our government with misconduct. Qatar is an important supplier of LNG (liquified natural gas) to Belgium.”
According to Alexander Kirk, a campaigner from Global Witness, the gas industry’s influence on the EU has “locked it into fossil fuel dependence”, which has forced it to “choose between an unprecedented energy crisis of funding repressive regimes”.
He told Express.co.uk: “There is no good way to source fossil gas, as Europe has found out painfully this year. For decades, the gas industry gas worked hard to lock the EU into fossil gas dependence. We are now seeing the results: Europe is forced to choose between an unprecedented energy crisis or the funding of repressive regimes, such as Russia or Qatar.”
Mr Kirk added: “It is crucial that the EU and its allies take decisive action to stop further invest in and develop its green infrastructure, not only to protect the planet but also to safeguard the well-being and interests of its citizens against autocratic governments that seek to undermine them through the use of fossil fuel diplomacy.”
The European Commission has been approached for comment.
Source: Read Full Article