Ursula von der Leyen in Baku: Brussels must urgently multiply bilateral energy agreements before winter

Ursula von der Leyen in Baku: Brussels must urgently multiply bilateral energy agreements before winter

The information fell discreetly before the weekend: the President of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen, is traveling to Baku today to seal the energy security agreement which will allow Azerbaijan to supply more gas to the Union by next winter.

Sébastien Boussois is a Doctor of Political Science, researcher in the Middle East, Euro-Arab relations / terrorism and radicalization, teacher in International relations, scientific collaborator of CECID (Free University of Brussels), OMAN (UQAM Montreal) and SAVE BELGIUM ( Society Against Violent Extremism).

Ms von der Leyen would be followed in the coming weeks by the European Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson. Is Europe learning realpolitik? It clearly urgently needs to quickly negotiate a wide range of cross-deals in terms of energy and raw materials, with support in return for its partners in health, food security, agribusiness or technology. .

Several bilateral agreements being signed

Each Member State tried to get by on its own to begin with. Last May, moreover, Germany had already signed a historic agreement to import liquid gas, this time from Qatar, which today, along with Azerbaijan, constitutes a serious alternative to Russian gas.

A dependency which amounted to 55% of its imports until before the crisis. Step by step, the Union is increasing its partnerships to compensate for this global dependence on the 155 million m3 annually from Russia.

Other countries like France are looking for an emergency exit on a case-by-case basis, but it is from the European level that the global solution must come.

The forthcoming agreement between Brussels and Baku is a new example. And it is not to displease Azerbaijan, which was one of the first countries in the Caucasus region to condemn the Russian intervention in Ukraine and then its invasion on February 24th.

Baku was also among the first to send humanitarian aid to kyiv, which Zelensky has repeatedly reminded when thanking President Aliyev.

Baku emancipates from Moscow

Finally, it is a strong act of authority and emancipation, in the light of history, of Baku with regard to Moscow. History also to make him understand that any territorial expansion will never pass through his country.

Faced with the violent crisis that the old continent has been going through since the outbreak of war in Ukraine by Russia, we are faced with new vital political, economic and financial challenges that risk making our daily lives more and more complicated.

Vital security issues for Europe which must push the old continent in particular to strengthen solid partnerships which will protect it from potential shortages in the months to come. Joe Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia recently, to ask him to increase his production, is proof that each of the greats of this world is trying to guarantee his energy independence.

Multiply business partners

The Ukrainian crisis has shown us, if need be, that Europe’s gas supply cannot rely solely on a small number of suppliers, as is the case with Russia, who at any time can be banned or subject to economic sanctions that already impact us directly.

So far, Europe has opted for a slew of economic sanctions against Moscow but seems incapable of decreeing a blockade against Russian gas which would be radical for Moscow’s finances. We also know how much the soft eyes made in Tehran by the West to put the nuclear agreement back in the saddle was not entirely devoid of ulterior motives.

Ongoing dialogue in Baku

What else do we know about the agreement that will be signed between Brussels and Baku? Active dialogue and cooperation between the two entities has been taking place for several months. From the beginning of last February, a European delegation was in Baku to obtain more gas from Azerbaijan.

On this occasion, the European Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, declared: “I want to thank Azerbaijan for its efforts to increase gas supplies to the European Union via the Southern Gas Corridor. Azerbaijan responded to the call, confirming its reliability. »

20 billion m3 of gas by 2027

What reliability are we talking about? We are talking about 20 billion m3 of Azeri gas per year until at least 2027 which would be sold to the EU. In 2021, it was only 13.5 billion m3. On 15th July last, Ilham Aliyev gave a speech in which he recalled the state of cooperation between his country and the Union which was about to culminate in this famous new agreement.

Most of the clauses have been accepted by the common parties. Having had several phone calls with the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, Aliyev also recalled that, implicitly in the current energy agreement, the objective of this increased cooperation was also the normalization of relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia in order to advance peace in the Caucasus.

Peace in the Union too, because small rivers make big rivers and Brussels will need as many partners as possible to avoid falling back into the ease of a majority supplier putting the Union in danger at all moment. It is these cross agreements that will save us from now until winter.

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