The European Union
The European Union (EU) is ready to face the suspension of Russian gas deliveries to its member states, said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday. The Russian gas supplier Gazprom announced earlier Wednesday that it was fully stopping its gas deliveries to Poland and Bulgaria, due to the two EU member states' "failure to pay in rubles." Also Read: Russia cuts off 2 EU nations from its gas in war escalation In a statement reacting to Gazprom's announcement, von der Leyen called the move "another attempt by Russia to use gas as an instrument of blackmail" in the context of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded on March 23 that Russia's current gas contracts with "unfriendly countries" should be paid in rubles. "We have been working to ensure alternative deliveries and the best possible storage levels across the EU," and the gas coordination group is meeting in order to map out a coordinated EU response, said von der Leyen. The EU, highly dependent on Russian gas and oil, has been working on finding alternative energy supplies through its REPowerEU plan launched on March 8. The bloc agreed with the United States on March 25 that it would purchase an additional at least 15 billion cubic meters of liquified natural gas (LNG) for 2022, and 50 billion cubic meters of LNG per annum until at least 2030. Also Read: Poland, Bulgaria say Russia suspending natural gas supplies The bloc is also accelerating its green transition to wean itself from fossil fuels and to increase energy efficiency.
The European Union (EU) leaders have finally settled down an unprecedented 1.82 trillion euro ($2.1 trillion) budget and coronavirus recovery fund on Tuesday. After a four-day summit over money and power in one of longest deals ever, the EU nations have come to a solution to meet the Covid-19 challenges. To confront the biggest recession in its history, the EU reached a consensus on a 750 billion euro coronavirus fund to be sent as loans and grants to the countries hit hardest by the virus, reports AP. That comes on top of the seven-year 1 trillion euro EU budget. At first the grants were to total 500 billion euros, but the figure was lowered to 390 billion. “Never before did the EU invest in the future like this,” Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes said. French President Emmanuel Macron said that it was a “historic day for Europe.” “There were extremely tense moments,” he added. The 27 leaders all huddled back in the main room of the Europa centre and bumped elbows and made jokes before giving the package the final approval. The summit host Charles Michel wrote on Twitter: “We did it! Europe is united.” “We showed our belief in our common future,” Michel, the EU Council president, added with obvious relief. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said an extraordinary situation demands extraordinary efforts. A two-day summit scheduled to end Saturday was forced into two extra days by deep ideological differences among the 27 leaders. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, defended the cause of a group of five wealthy northern nations — the Netherlands, Austria, Finland, Sweden and Denmark. He was on the brink of securing limits to costs and imposing strict reform guarantees on any rescue plan for needy nations. It was the focal point of the marathon talks that started on Friday morning. The coronavirus has sent the EU into a tailspin, killing around 135,000 of its citizens and plunging its economy into an estimated contraction of 8.3 percent this year. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez underscored the adoption of an ambitious plan was obligatory as the health crisis continues to threaten the EU.