Energy Security & Shale Gas Development To Dominate EU-US Summit

  • Date: 23/03/14
  • Tom Curry, NBC News

President Barack Obama flies Sunday to a Europe shaken by Vladimir Putin’s seizure of Crimea and his threats against eastern parts of Ukraine.  US exports of energy and European development of shale gas will be a significant element of the EU-US summit in Brussels this week.

At a summit conference at The Hague on preventing nuclear terrorism – scheduled long before the Ukraine crisis – Obama will confer with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other leaders. On Monday afternoon Obama will meet with President Xi Jinping of China, Russia’s neighbor and sometime rival.

 Putin has forced the United States and Europe to refocus on the origins of the modern transatlantic alliance — the 1949 NATO defense partnership designed to prevent a Russian invasion of Western Europe.

“We live in a different world than we did less than a month ago,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told an audience in Washington last week. Russia’s aggression is “a wake-up call for the Euro-Atlantic community, for NATO, and for all those committed to a Europe whole, free, and at peace.”

Russian brute force is a jarring diversion from Obama’s second-term agenda of combatting climate change, increasing the minimum wage, and his “health care bracketology”— a headline used on the White House website to spur people to sign up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act. [...]

“We are going to have to think very hard in Europe and in the United States about how we are going to respond to the Ukrainian government’s legitimate requests to have the wherewithal to defend itself,” said Francois Heisbourg, a former French Foreign Ministry official who is now chairman of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a think tank in London and Washington….

In the longer term, the geostrategic balance between Europe and Russia hinges on energy. The European Union depends on Russia for about 30 percent of its natural gas.

Heisbourg said, “You have on the table in the United States the issue of: Are you going to export hydrocarbons or not? And the Europeans have on their table: are we going to stop our silliness about shutting down existing sources of production of energy – nuclear energy in Germany — and preventing ourselves from exploring new sources of energy like unconventional (shale) gas. This, I understand, will be a significant element of the EU-US summit” in Brussels this week which will follow The Hague meetings.

“This is truly of the essence if, over the next two years, we want to un-build the strategic dependency of Europe on Russian gas,” Heisbourg said.

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