[BRUSSELS] The EU unveiled plans on Wednesday for a continent-wide single energy market to reduce its uneasy reliance on Russian supplies and cut a massive annual import bill of some 400 billion euros.
The proposals by the European Commission, the executive body of the 28-nation bloc, are timely as Russia once again threatens to cut gas deliveries to Ukraine, putting onward supply to Europe at risk.
"Today, we launch the most ambitious European energy project since the Coal and Steel Community," said Maros Sefcovic, the Commission vice president in charge of the dossier, citing the 1951 precursor of the modern-day EU.
The European Union imported 53 per cent of its energy needs last year at a cost of 400 billion euros (S$455 billion), a dangerous vulnerability in itself at a time of growing global insecurity, not least tensions with Russia.
The plans for 'energy union' include completing the single market, increasing energy security, boosting efficiency, reducing the use of fossil fuels and increased research on new energy sources.
But efforts to centralise energy policy in Brussels are potentially divisive EU member states jealously guard the right to decide their own energy mix.