NEWS

Energy a key part of Rome summit

Meeting of South European leaders acquires greater significance in light of Ukraine crisis

Energy a key part of Rome summit

Against the backdrop of the energy crisis and the geopolitical shake-up sparked by Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, leaders of Southern European countries will meet on Friday in Rome with the online presence of Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who is recovering from the coronavirus.

The meeting between the host, Mario Draghi, the prime ministers of Spain, Pedro Sanchez, and Portugal, Antonio Costa, and Mitsotakis, acquires even greater importance due to the current situation, given the rapid changes in the energy and geopolitical map of the continent.

A key part of the talks, based on the announcement issued by the Italian government, is energy issues and the exchange of views ahead of the March 24 summit.

The agenda of the discussion is sure to include, among others, the six-point draft proposed by Mitsotakis to the Commission to impose a temporary cap on rising gas prices.

Moreover, Kathimerini understands that medium-term and short-term moves enabling a detachment from Russian gas may also be discussed.

Tellingly, the Italian press, namely the center-left Il Fatto Quotidiano newspaper, had extensive coverage on the return of the EastMed pipeline in recent days, indicating that the relevant debate still exists in Italy.

At the same time, Mitsotakis has rekindled the debate in Greece about the “return” of EastMed: Specifically, Mitsotakis stated that “we claim our energy self-sufficiency” and the “transformation of our country into a gateway for liquefied natural gas.” He has also said that Greece wants to exploit natural gas deposits of economic interest.

Moreover, Assistant Secretary for International Affairs at the US Department of Energy Andrew Light said during a discussion at the Delphi Economic Forum in Washington that Greece can become the new energy corridor for cheap RES energy and the EastMed should be re-examined along with the new data.

It appears clear in this light that the issue of energy policy and independence from Russian gas, after the crisis in Ukraine, will be part of the discussion.

The discussions are also expected to include migration, which directly concerns the countries of the South, as well as issues of security, the EU military and the common defense of the EU after the Ukrainian war.