For almost a hundred days, the Ukrainians have been engaged in a fight to the death for the survival of their country. The European Union is supporting them by sending arms, including heavy weapons, by taking in millions of displaced persons, by providing economic and financial assistance, by supporting criminal investigations and by imposing sanctions on the aggressor, Vladimir Putin’s regime, as never before. In so doing, the EU-27 are not only seeking to make the Kremlin pay the price for its invasion. They are gradually freeing themselves from their dependence on Russian hydrocarbons. The quasi-embargo on oil decreed not without difficulty by the European Council for the end of this year marks a new stage, after the embargo on coal set for this August.
But these are also a point of no return. The alternatives, which involve diversifying supplies, increasing the share of renewable energies and reviewing our consumption patterns (see our video clip and our article on sufficiency), will not only eventually dry up the Russian energy rent but will also restructure our economic model to give Europeans their independence in this strategic area. On the condition that we do not substitute one dependency for another, such as the import of liquefied natural gas (LNG).
The same goes for defense. The German parliament is preparing to vote an unprecedented increase in its military budget, by creating a special fund of 100 billion euros, to make up for lost time. In many countries, national defence spending is rising sharply. In Europe, the time has come for rearmament. But here too, equipment and its subcontracting chain must not accentuate an already very strong American dependence.
This is why this European independence cannot be declared by one country alone, but must be built in the greatest possible unity. It is significant that the very Atlanticist Denmark now wants to join the Common European Defence and Security Policy, as was to be decided in a referendum held in that country on the 1st of June. Beyond the reaction to the war in Ukraine, industrial alliances are emerging to give Europe more autonomy in key technologies. These are the “important projects of common European interest”, which are being set up among several countries, on batteries, hydrogen, semiconductors, the cloud or even pharmaceuticals. Like vaccines during Covid, joint purchases of gas and arms are another way of acting as Europeans. The hoped-for creation of new own resources, guarantees of budgetary independence, will also contribute to this.
All of these initiatives, which have yet to be put into practice and to have their effects translated into reality, point to a certain power, which the European Union is in the process of developing. In order to move forward with the most active, it will not be able to avoid a debate on its governance and its institutions, which is also called for by its enlargement, the terms of which have already been radically changed by the war.