EU To Press Obama At Summit For Shale Gas Exports

  • Date: 26/03/14
  • Robin Emmott and Jan Strupczewski, Reuters

The European Union will press U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday to help reduce Europe’s reliance on Russian energy by exporting U.S. natural gas, at a time of chill in relations with Moscow over its intervention in Ukraine.

After a visit to a World War One battlefield, Obama will have just 75 minutes over lunch with the EU’s top officials to tackle issues ranging from energy to climate change, in a meeting that will be dominated by the Ukraine crisis.

Yet if there were any doubts about the EU-U.S relationship after last year’s revelations that Washington spied on its allies, Obama plans to assuage them later in the day in a speech to some 2,000 guests, before leaving for Rome.

“Recent developments just underscore the importance of the transatlantic relationship,” Obama’s top trade envoy, Michael Froman, said during a visit to Brussels before the summit.

“Right now, as we look around the world, there is a powerful reason for Europe and the United States to come together to demonstrate that they can take their relationship to a new level,” said Froman, who is the U.S. Trade Representative.

Obama will seek to send that message in his tour of Flanders Field in northern Belgium where U.S. soldiers fought a century ago, a visit steeped in historical significance that has been accentuated by the tensions with Russia over Crimea.

Earlier this week, both sides sought unity in The Hague, where Obama and Germany, France, Britain and Italy, along with Japan and Canada, warned Russia it faced damaging economic sanctions if Moscow took further action to destabilise Ukraine following its seizure and annexation of Crimea.

Ukraine will be foremost in discussions on Wednesday in light of the EU’s efforts to scale back its imports of Russian energy. Russia provides around one third of the EU’s oil and gas and some 40 percent of the gas is shipped through Ukraine.

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