The idea of deepening cooperation in the energy field between the EU and Russia is not new: the Energy Dialogue and the Gas Advisory Council are the most prominent examples. Yet, little progress has been made since 2011. The proclaimed goals like the creation of a common energy space seem to be forgotten. Now that trust between Russia and the EU is at its lowest point since 1990, it is time to revive these ideas. Jekaterina Grigorjeva proposes to establish an EU-Russia Gas Commission in order to use one of the strongest interdependencies between Russia and the EU as a foundation for a long-lasting, trusting relationship.
EU-Russia Gas Commission
As a solution to the current crisis of the European security, I would like to propose the establishment of an EU-Russia Gas Commission.
The European Union is the key to the relations between Russia and the West, suggesting that the issue of trust can be solved by working on the EU-Russia relations. However, is trust rational? If states as rational actors base their decision on all available information, then only an absolute global disclosure would lead to trust. Instead, countries create unions and common institutions in order to increase transparency and interdependency between them. A difficulty arises if an existing interdependency becomes critical due to the lack of trust and there are no suitable institutions in place to restore it.
The trade in natural gas represents the strongest interdependency between Russia and the EU. While the EU is concerned about the security of supply, the security of the European demand is crucial for Russia. Despite the currently tensed relations between Russia and the West, this interdependency cannot be denied, but it can be effectively managed by creating a joint institution for coordination of the EU-Russia gas relations. Such institution would be in charge of security of supply and demand, strategic infrastructure planning, price setting mechanism, and overseeing the regulatory compliance. Additionally, it would be responsible for the relations with transit states and conflict resolution between the parties. An independent Expertise Unit of specialists from the EU and Russia, open to foreign participation, together with a Department for Dispute Settlement would comprise the core of the Commission. The institution should be founded on a bipolar principle, with none of the parties having the lead, and the headquarters located on a neutral territory.
By bringing together the EU Member States with the main non-EU supplier in one independent institution, the EU-Russia Gas Commission would increase the energy security of the entire European continent. The increased transparency created by a common institution would help to depoliticise the EU-Russia energy relations, positively affecting the European security as a whole. As such, the EU-Russia Gas Commission would help to re-establish the trust between Russia and the EU, and consequently – Russia and the West.
For this idea, Jekaterina Grigorjeva has been selected as Junior Ambassador at the Munich Security Conference.
Image: Pearl`s, source: flickr.com