Chris Poray / Apr 2022
The EU Global Gateway strategy aims to provide “smart, clean and secure links in digital, energy and transport.. across the world” with a €300 billion investment from 2021-2027. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the EU Commission and its western allies have taken huge strides in cutting Russia off from their financial markets. However, one of the biggest steps is Europe’s move away from Russian oil, providing significant strains on the European energy economy and security. It is a sacrifice that must be made however, in solidarity with Ukrainians and in line with European values, with many Eastern EU countries fully supporting their Ukrainian counterparts, most notably Poland who, at the time of writing has taken in 2.6 million refugees out of the 4.5 million that have fled the country, according to the UN.
The Global Gateway’s primary aim is to provide Europe and its allies with secure and clean opportunities. This encapsulates the green transition, something that unsurprisingly doesn’t include continuing to rely on Russian gas or oil supplies, a change that needed to happen sooner rather than later. Russia’s invasion has brought this weening off oil and gas forward considerably, with European industrial powers, particularly Germany, hesitant to abandon their coal and larger fossil fuel consumption. The Global Gateway offers an opportunity to realise this transition once and for all, allowing Europe to adopt an autonomous energy policy, no longer reliant on the huge fossil fuel reserves from its Eastern neighbours.
Utilising the ambition and pull of the Gateway will allow the EU to position itself as a global force for good, standing up for the right of sovereignty, with European values being at the forefront of its foreign and economic policy. This will allow potential allies with Africa being courted by European politicians to move closer to Europe, ushering many African countries away from the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Bringing non-EU countries onside will depend on its ability to mobilise significant financial investment, something which the Chinese are outperforming Europe on, and doubling down on confidence in a transparent and win-win partnership, something which the BRI is consistently criticised for both in the West and Africa.
Moving away from Russian oil and gas will always hurt Europe, with the economy and living standards due to take a hit. Germany finally managed to halt their partnership with Moscow on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline (for the time being), following consistent and increasingly more aggressive calls from European and American allies. In order to make the European project work, there needs to be an understanding and alignment in foreign policy providing non-EU partners with the confidence and security that Europe will support them in their time of need.
Europe must understand it is not alone and Russia is not the only one who provides gas and oil to the globe, it is under no illusion that decoupling itself from such an integrated energy economy will take time, and in the short term will produce some unsavoury results. However, if Europe is going to provide security to its citizens and not compromise on its European values, this decoupling must be accelerated. The US is attempting to take on 24% of the amount of gas Russia provided to Europe, offsetting some issues, with other European countries to alternative sources such as Algeria and Saudi Arabia. There is obvious hypocrisy when moving from Russian oil to Saudi Arabian given the gulf states’ despicable human rights record, but if Europe is truly serious about its Green Deal, this will only be a stop-gap on the way to Net-Zero.
Working with alternative providers will help develop the EU in a more strategic manner, particularly in comparison to often wayward foreign and international development policy, helping to develop Europe in turn. Strategising EU investment into clean and green energy will protect Europe going forward, whilst similarly expanding its influence for good across the globe, allowing European values to lift people out of poverty and experience a free and democratic life.