EU Leaders To Urge Greater Effort To Cut Gas Imports


BRUSSELS, March 11 (Reuters) - European Union leaders will call for greater efforts to cut reliance on imported gas at a Brussels summit next week, a draft document shows, underlining their concern about strained relations with dominant energy supplier Russia over Ukraine.

Ukraine is a transit route for shipping Russian gas to the EU, which relies on Russia for about a third of its supplies.

Past supply disruption because of pricing disputes between Moscow and Kiev had already motivated EU leaders to seek alternatives to Russian gas, but Russia's seizure of Ukraine's Crimea region has increased the EU's focus on diversifying.

"The European Council is concerned about Europe's high energy dependency rates, especially on gas, and calls for intensifying efforts to reduce them, especially in the most dependent member states," said a draft document prepared for the summit of EU leaders in Brussels on March 20-21.

Some nations, such as Bulgaria, are almost entirely dependent on Russian energy.

"Europe needs to further diversify its energy supply, continue to develop renewable and other indigenous energy sources and coordinate the development of the infrastructure to support this diversification," the document seen by Reuters said.

The wording on energy dependency was not in an earlier version of the document circulated before Russian forces seized Crimea.


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