Germany, Czech Republic seek EU talks on fully quitting Russian energy

BRUSSELS, (Reuters) – Germany and the Czech Republic are pushing the European Union to hold talks on how to eliminate the remaining energy sources Europe imports from Russia, EU diplomats told Reuters on Tuesday.

Germany, Europe’s biggest economy and gas market, and the Czech Republic will ask Brussels to start regular high-level talks – potentially among countries’ energy ministers – on how to fully end their imports of Russian energy.

Moscow has slashed gas exports to Europe since invading Ukraine in 2022, and an undersea explosion shut down the Nord Stream pipeline from former top gas supplier Russia to Germany.

The EU has rapidly replaced Russian fuel with renewable energy and more gas from other suppliers. But the bloc still got 15% of its gas from Russia last year.

Russia sent more than 15.6 million metric tons of Russian liquefied natural gas to EU ports last year, according to data analytics firm Kpler, a 37.7% jump compared to 2021, the year before Russia’s Ukraine invasion.

Berlin and Prague will make the call during a meeting of EU countries energy ministers in Brussels on Thursday, EU diplomats told Reuters.

A document, previously reported by Reuters, showed the ministers are set to discuss on Thursday the obstacles they are facing in phasing out Russian energy imports. EU members including Austria and Hungary remain heavily reliant on Russian gas.

Berlin and Prague’s move is one of numerous ways in which the EU has attempted to work around insufficient support among its member countries to fully sanction Russian gas imports – which Hungary has repeatedly said it would block.

The EU has already banned imports of Russian coal, as well as sea-borne crude oil, with exemptions for some land-locked countries.

Separately, EU countries are discussing sanctions on trans-shipments of Russian LNG in Europe, but have not considered outright banning imports.

The bloc has also approved a legal option for EU countries to block Russian companies from using their gas import infrastructure. However, Spain and others have raised concerns that if they did this alone, Russian LNG would simply flow to other EU ports instead.

Brussels has set out a goal to end the EU’s reliance on Russian energy by 2027.

Reporting by Kate Abnett Editing by Tomasz Janowski