7/9/14, "Leaked paper: EU wants 'guaranteed' access to US oil and gas," EU Observer, Benjamin Fox, Brussels
"The EU wants the US to lift its restrictions on exporting gas and
crude oil as part of ongoing trade talks, according to a leaked European
The strategy paper by the EU executive, obtained by the Washington
Post, calls for “a legally binding commitment … guaranteeing the free
export of crude oil and gas resources”
EU and US trade officials will hold their sixth round of talks on an
ambitious Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) in
Brussels next week, which officials argue could be worth €100 billion
per year, equivalent to an additional 0.5 percent of EU GDP.
Although a trade deal, which negotiators hope to finalise in 2015,
would probably scrap most of the remaining tariff barriers between the
two blocs, the real value of an agreement would lie in harmonising
regulation and sharing raw materials.
Including a chapter on energy in the deal is a key priority of EU
officials. The leaked paper argues that “it should not be difficult to
establish a chapter with rules on trade and investment in energy and raw
At the top of the EU’s demands is for Washington to scrap its
requirement to review whether exports are in the public interest before
approving any foreign sales, “transforming any mandatory and
non-automatic export licensing procedure into a process by which
licenses for exports to the EU are granted automatically and
The EU is anxious to reduce its reliance on Russian gas and oil
imports, fears which have been heightened by the ongoing crisis in
It has also long-stated its wish to have easy access to the abundance
of US natural gas and crude oil created by the country’s recent shale
A number of EU countries have large deposits of shale gas in their
own soil, but most have so far been reluctant to start exploiting it
because of environmental concerns about the fracking process which
extracts the fossil fuels.
“The current crisis in Ukraine confirms the delicate situation faced
by the EU with regard to energy dependence,” the paper notes.
But exporting natural gas could push up prices for ordinary Americans
and businesses, who have benefited from a 50 percent fall in energy
prices over the past five years, and US negotiators have so far refused
to drop their restrictions.
The Commission paper acknowledges the US’s reticence, conceding that
“the US has also been hesitant to discuss a solution for US export
restrictions on natural gas and crude oil in the TTIP”.
“We have only noticed some limited opening on the US side…a clear
agreement to discuss a comprehensive chapter on energy and raw materials
is still lacking,” it adds.
Environmental campaigners were swift to denounce the EU plans.
In a statement on Tuesday (8 July), Natacha Cingotti, a spokesperson
for Friends of the Earth, accused the bloc of attempting to “trade away
regulations that protect us from dangerous climate change”.
For her part, Ilana Solomon, a director of the Sierra Club, a
US-based NGO, commented that “the EU wants a free pass to import dirty
fossil fuels from the US”."
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