Russia could interrupt its remaining gas deliveries to Europe via Ukraine, Russian-controlled energy giant Gazprom announced on Wednesday. Gazprom warned earlier this week that gas supplies via Ukraine were at risk due to a legal dispute with Ukraine's state-owned gas company Naftogaz over transit fees. After the alleged "sabotage" of the Nord Stream gas pipelines, Moscow is now threatening to impose sanctions on Naftogaz over the arbitration proceedings.
The Czech EU Council presidency has presented to member states a compromise proposal on energy emergency measures, due to be adopted during Friday's energy council. Under the latest agreement, countries would have the right to cap excess profits from low-cost electricity producers in a way that allows them to retain 10 percent of such revenues. Meanwhile, fossil-fuel companies' windfall profits from 2022 could be exempted from the market revenues cap.
A group of 15 member states has called on the European Commission to present plans to introduce a bloc-wide cap on the price of gas at Friday's energy council. "The cap should be applied to all wholesale natural gas transactions, and not limited to import from specific jurisdictions," reads the letter signed by Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.
The Nord Stream 1 and 2 explosions were "the result of a deliberate act" EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said on Wednesday. "All available information indicates those leaks are the result of a deliberate act," he tweeted. "We will support any investigation aimed at getting full clarity on what happened and why and will take further steps to increase our resilience in energy security."
Italy's new prime minster-in-waiting, Giorgia Meloni, wants to set up a naval blockade to prevent migrants and asylum seekers fleeing Libya. The idea is unlikely to see the light of day.
The EU Commission urged the new Italian government to stick to reform plans, as it gave the green light on Tuesday for the payment of €21bn from the Covid-19 recovery fund. The EU has allocated around €200bn in total for Italy, which it can access after it meets a series of reform targets. Far-right leader Giorgia Meloni's electoral victory raised concerns in Brussels that Rome wants to diverge from reforms.
Measuring stations connected to the Swedish National Seismic Network (SNSN) detected powerful underwater explosions close to the leaks in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines. Poland has already declared it "sabotage".
Greece has proposed establishing a special fund to support vulnerable households and businesses struggling to pay energy bills, to be financed through a levy of €10 per megawatt hour on gas consumed by electricity producers, Reuters reported on Tuesday. Greece said the levy could raise up to €9bn, and help Europe get an €80bn loan from the European Investment Bank to set up the fund.
EU countries are stalling on plans to halve pesticide use amid concerns it could hinder agricultural production in Europe and harm global food security.
EU sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine and plans for further energy sanctions have prompted skyrocketing energy prices, Hungarian government spokesman Zoltán Kovács tweeted on Tuesday. "It has become clear that the sanctions which have been introduced are doing more harm to Europe than to Russia," he said, arguing if sanctions were lifted, prices would drop immediately. The EU is currently preparing new sanctions following Russia's general mobilisation.
The UN report's findings should be met by the EU with a more principled and human rights-centred approach to China — urging the UN Office on Genocide Prevention to conduct an assessment of atrocities.
France wants to start building its first new-generation 'European Pressurised Reactors' nuclear reactor before May 2027, Reuters reported on Tuesday. French president Emmanuel Macron plans to build at least six new reactors as part of efforts to put his country on the path toward climate-neutrality. The reactors, which will replace current sites reaching the end of their lifespan by the end of 2030, will cost an estimated €51.7bn.
EU majority building for near-total ban on Russian diamonds, as Belgium says it won't veto sanctions, which could cost 10,000 jobs in Antwerp.
Poland's prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki said the leaks in the Nord Stream pipelines were caused by sabotage. "Today we faced an act of sabotage, we don't know all the details of what happened, but we see clearly that it's an act of sabotage related to the next step of escalation of the situation in Ukraine," he said during the opening of a new gas pipeline between Norway and Poland.
Hungary's Supreme Court on Tuesday sentenced former Jobbik MEP Béla Kovács to five years in prison for spying, Hungarian media reported. He was also sentenced for budget fraud and falsification of documents. According to the indictment, between 2012 and 2014, Kovács' task was to create groups in the EU to strengthen Russia's interests and weaken EU policy. Kovács lives in Moscow. An international warrant could be issued for his arrest.
Danish energy companies have been put on a higher level of preparedness which requires them to check the physical safety of generators several times a day, following three large leaks in both Nord Stream pipelines. "A leak is extremely rare, and it naturally causes strong concern. That is why we have raised the level of preparedness in Denmark," director of the Danish Energy Agency Kristoffer Böttzauw told Danish daily Berlingske.
Whether on Russia, or gas, or climate change, or food security, the EU's constant finger-wagging and moralising is becoming unbearably repetitive and self-defeating. Most countries in the Global South view it as eurocentric and neo-colonial.
Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen suspects the leaks in the Nord Stream pipelines may be caused by sabotage. "It is hard to imagine that it is accidental. We cannot rule out sabotage, but it is too early to conclude," she told Danish news agency Politiken while in Poland, where she attended the inauguration of the Baltic pipeline, which will connect the Norwegian gas grid to Poland.
Sweden's maritime authority detected two leaks on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline on Tuesday, shortly after Danish authorities discovered a leak in Nord Stream 2.
Moscow's military mobilisation and the subsequent fear and unrest in Russia, means the question of Vladimir Putin's political future and possible regime change in Russia has reappeared.