Opening remarks of Commissioner Simson at the press conference of the Extraordinary Energy Council with Ukraine’s Energy Minister

©European Union, 2021, Source: EC - Audiovisual Service©European Union, 2021, Source: EC - Audiovisual Service

Good afternoon!

I want to start by thanking German for joining us today, despite the fact that it is the 153 day of Russia’s war against Ukraine. It is an honour to have you here and I am grateful to Jozef for organising this important discussion we have just had on the EU-Ukraine energy cooperation.

The EU stands with Ukraine against Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion and the brutal acts committed by the Russian soldiers. In July, we have proposed 1 billion in macro-financial assistance, out of 9 billion foreseen for this year. Just last week, the latest set of sanctions was agreed after six previous packages.

Our support in the energy sector focuses on making sure that Ukraine’s electricity and gas systems remain operational. The fact that electricity and gas have continued to flow shows the extraordinary determination and commitment of those who work in the Ukrainian energy sector.

Together, we managed to synchronise Ukraine and Moldova to the European grid in record speed in March. This was a historic and symbolic moment. I will continue to support taking the next steps towards full-scale electricity trade with Ukraine.

The first cross-border commercial exchanges of electricity started in the end of June with Romania, followed by Slovakia in July. The capacity of trade is currently capped at 100MV, but the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity are meeting this week to decide on the doubling of this amount.

Ramping up electricity trade will allow Ukraine to earn much-needed revenues to compensate for the effects of the war. For the EU, it will make additional affordable electricity available during a time when prices are exceptionally high – and we are reducing our gas consumption wherever possible to end our dependency on Russia.

When it comes to gas, we are working very closely ahead of the next winter to improve security of supply and preparedness for any disruptions. Whenever we talk about Europe’s security of supply, Ukraine is part of that conversation. We are in constant contact and Ukraine is part of the EU Energy Platform as well as its two regional groups.

Ukraine, together with Moldova and Georgia, will be able to benefit from future common purchases of gas, LNG and hydrogen. With the gas TSOs in neighbouring Member States, we have helped secure increased reverse flows between the EU and Ukraine until the end of the year. And we are ready to facilitate their extension.

Ukraine has the largest gas storage capacity in Europe – it is in our joint interest to have it used for our security of supply. The same goes for implementing the new EU rules on gas storage to be incorporated in the Energy Community very soon.

We are also assisting Ukraine on the ground. Damaged energy equipment is repaired by channelling specialised equipment from Member States via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. Items that Members States cannot deliver are procured via the Energy Support Fund for Ukraine established by the Energy Community.

In addition to this, we have been working with the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group as well as the International Atomic Energy Agency to ensure nuclear safety in the country. This remains a priority and we should not forget Russia’s reckless behaviour in this regard, in violation of international law.

It is extremely impressive not only that Ukraine has managed to keep its energy system running throughout the war, they have been making progress towards a more modern, more sustainable energy sector.

In 2022, Ukraine holds the Presidency of the Energy Community and intends to complete the negotiations on the 2030 energy and climate targets, as well as the adoption of remaining key legislative acts to fully integrate Energy Community Contracting Parties into the EU internal electricity market.

The EU-Ukraine High-Level Working Group on energy market integration will resume its work in September to accelerate needed reforms. This will be even more crucial now that Ukraine has the status of the EU candidate country with a clear European perspective.

Ukraine’s progress towards a cleaner energy system will create new opportunities for market integration and trade with the rest of Europe. I will bring this vision to our contribution to the Reconstruction plan for Ukraine. And to anticipate this, we are working with Frans Timmermans on an EU-Ukraine renewable gases partnership.

This war will change the energy future for both the Union and Ukraine. We have committed to end our dependency on Russia as soon as possible, and earlier today, the ministers agreed on a plan to be ready for a full disruption of Russian gas already this year.

These are big and difficult changes, but if we act together, this will be a basis of a more independent, more sustainable and secure energy system for Europe – including Ukraine.

Thank you.