Russia was an important country for the EU, despite losing some of its energy resources in Central Asia with the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Russia’s efforts to dominate the European energy market by creating new energy transmission lines have led to energy crises between Russia and Ukraine. Ukraine is a transit country where Soyuz, Brotherhood and Trans Balkan Natural Gas Pipelines cross from Russia to EU countries. In this respect, Ukraine is of strategic importance for both Russia and the EU.
This strategic position of Ukraine caused some political problems with Russia and this problem affected EU member states quite negatively. The first crisis between Ukraine and Russia was the natural gas crisis in 2006. This natural gas crisis arose from the 2004 presidential election in Ukraine. Russia first limited the flow of natural gas to Ukraine and then threatened to cut it all.
Limiting the flow of natural gas adversely affected Ukraine as well as EU countries that supplied natural gas through Ukraine.
Stegen argues that this security risk is further exacerbated by Russia’s willingness to wield its gas exports as a political weapon, as it did in Ukraine. The energy crisis was primarily effective in Hungary, Austria and Poland The impact of the crisis was later felt in Germany. This crisis increased EU concerns about energy supply security. The 2006 Russia – Ukraine Crisis has shown how serious the Union’s energy supply security problem is. Thus, the perception that Russia is not a reliable supplier country has emerged in the member countries.
The political tension between Russia and Ukraine led to a new energy crisis in 2009. Although the energy crisis was quickly overcome, the energy security of South East European countries that imported Russian natural gas through Ukraine was once again threatened. In 2014, a new political crisis occurred between Russia and Ukraine, which turned into an energy crisis.
This energy crisis ended with the mediation of the Commission. The fact that the last crisis coincided with the summer months when natural gas consumption was low in contrast to the previous crises affected the energy security of EU countries less than the previous crises. In 2006, the EU’s foreign dependence on energy reached 54%. According to Eurostat, 545.9 million tons of crude oil were imported by EU Member States in 2016. Today, the EU imports 53% of the energy it consumes. Energy import dependency relates to crude oil (almost 90%), natural gas (66%), and a lesser extent to solid fuels (42%) as well as nuclear fuel (40%). With the impact of energy security threats, European Union (EU) members focused on developing more effective energy policies. The EU aims to ensure energy supply security by developing new energy policies and to create a competitive energy market.
It has implemented various strategies and regulations to achieve these goals. We can say that these strategies and regulations are predominantly natural gas. Energy policies developed by the EU with the impact of energy crises: European Strategy for Sustainable, Competitive and Secure Energy (Green Paper) -2006 The EU published a new Green Book in 2006, which set out targets and priorities for energy policies with the impact of the Russia-Ukraine energy crises. The Green Book had three main objectives. Combating climate change by increasing energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy sources, creating efficiency for the European energy grid by creating a competitive internal energy market and better coordinating the energy supply and demand of the EU in the international arena were the expected targets of the member countries.
An Energy Policy for Europe-2007 Following the Green Book, on 10 January 2007, it published a new document entitled Enerji Energy Policy for Europe. The document, which contains an important decision on energy security and climate change, has targets for the year 2020, in particular for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and environmental protection. These targets are among the prominent measures to ensure energy security of EU countries, which are highly dependent on oil and natural gas imports. European Union Energy Security and Solidarity Action Plan-2008 As a result of the crises, the EU has started to look for countries to supply natural gas more safely and cost-effectively. In this context, on November 13, 2008, the second Strategic Review Declaration including the EU Energy Security and Solidarity Action Plan was published.
The declaration states that the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) should be developed to reduce the natural gas dependence on Russia, which is expected to meet a significant portion of the EU’s future demand for natural gas. It was also stated that SGC, which will carry Caspian Region and Middle East natural gas resources to Europe, is one of the EU’s most important energy security priorities. On 13 June 2009, the EU continued its initiatives with the Third Energy Package, consisting of three regulations and two directives. In particular, it has been suggested that natural gas and electricity markets should be opened to full competition, consumers can choose their suppliers, markets should be regulated by independent authorities, cross-border trade should be developed and attention should be paid to security of supply. The 2050 Energy Roadmap published on 15 December 2011 aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% compared to 1990 level (European Commission, 2011: 3).
This roadmap sets priorities for a more sustainable, competitive and safe energy system. The package, which sets the EU’s climate and energy targets between 2020 and 2030, aims to increase the share of renewable energy sources in total energy consumption to 27% and reduce energy consumption by at least 27% (European Commission, 2014a). European Energy Security Strategy-2014 The European Energy Security Strategy document also includes assessments of the GGK for the diversification of natural gas suppliers and energy transmission routes. Beyond improving relations with existing supplier countries, it is stated that the EU needs to increase its initiatives to provide access to new supplier countries.