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Look To Africa And Middle East As Alternative To Russian Gas, Italian Prime Minister Urges 

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Europe should cast its eyes to the south and the east to wean itself from dependency on Russian gas, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi proposed today.

Addressing the European Parliament this afternoon, Draghi warned that the Ukraine war has shown just how exposed the EU is to Russian gas and that the time has come for a “profound geopolitical reorientation”.

“40% of Italy’s gas imports come from Russia, we don’t have coal or nuclear energy and we barely have any oil, which makes us vulnerable,” he said, while clarifying Italy’s stance in favour of a proposed Russian oil embargo from the EU.

Italy has already signed gas deals with the likes of Angola and Congo to reduce its dependency on Russia and Draghi made it clear that he sees this strategy as the way forward, both in the immediate and the long-term.

Former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat

Former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat

“Reducing Russian fossil fuel imports means that Europe must look to the Mediterranean to satisfy its energy needs, not only for gas but also for renewables in Africa and the Middle East,” he said. 

“Mediterranean countries can act as a bridge to the north of Europe. This will all depend on the investments we can make but we must defend families from inflation and ensure sanctions are sustainable.”

“Russia is the EU’s top supplier of LNG and most of it comes through pipelines that cannot be reorientated. We can use our bargaining power to reduce these costs that are weighing down our economies and being used to fund Putin’s military campaign.”

Malta has long been planning to establish a gas pipeline to Italy and the project was made eligible for EU funds last December, two months before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine spurred a continent-wide discussion on Russian gas flowing through these pipelines, 

Last March, former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat urged the government to set up gas pipelines to North Africa, arguing that the Italy pipeline won’t help reduce dependency on Russian gas.

However, Energy Minister Miriam Dalli played down this proposal, arguing that Italy already has pipelines to Algeria and the East Adriatic, which Malta can tap into when a second interconnector to Sicily is set up.

Cover photo: Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi with European Parliament President Roberta Metsola (Photo: Roberta Metsola – Facebook)

This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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Tim is interested in the rapid evolution of human society brought about by technological advances. He’s passionate about justice, human rights and cutting-edge political debates. You can follow him on Twitter at @timdiacono or reach out to him at [email protected]

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