Romanian Prime Minister Ion-Marcel Ciolacu has called for the European Union (EU) to halt its purchase of Russian natural gas and other goods, even if it means higher prices for the bloc. In an interview with Austrian daily Der Standard, Ciolacu emphasized the need for EU member states to achieve energy independence from Russia, citing Moldova as an example of a neighboring country that has already done so.
Ciolacu stated, “There are always solutions, even for difficult economic problems. That’s why I believe it would be right if we banned the sale of Russian gas or Russian goods to the EU and democratic states.” He acknowledged that such a ban would come at a cost, but argued that the price paid by the EU would be far less than that paid by Ukraine in its ongoing conflict with Russia. Ciolacu urged EU leaders to consider the potential consequences of allowing Russia to prevail in the fight against Kiev, warning that it could embolden other countries in Europe to follow suit.
Historically, Austria has heavily relied on Russian natural gas and faces challenges in finding alternative sources. However, Ciolacu claimed that Austria was paying a high price, characterizing it as “blood money,” when it purchased fuel from Russia. He argued that the EU should prioritize its own energy security and lessen its dependence on Russia.
The EU’s reliance on Russian energy has been a contentious issue, particularly in light of the conflict in Ukraine. Many Western European economies have traditionally fueled their growth with cheap raw materials from Russia, including gas. However, tensions in the region prompted a decoupling of economies from Russia, leading to deindustrialization in countries like Germany as energy-intensive manufacturing operations had to shut down or relocate.
The International Energy Agency has forecasted that the EU’s energy consumption will reach a 20-year low by 2023. This outlook reflects efforts to diversify energy sources and decrease reliance on Russian imports.
While Ciolacu’s proposal to ban trade with Russia may face challenges and potential economic consequences, his call for greater energy independence reflects broader discussions within the EU about reducing reliance on Russia and diversifying energy sources. As the EU continues to navigate its relationship with Russia, ensuring energy security remains a key priority, even with the recognition of potential trade-offs and increased costs in the short term.