Von der Leyen: Russia’s Gazprom not reacting to increased EU demand

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BRUSSELS, March 18, 2020 (Xinhua) -- European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks at a press conference after a video conference in Brussels, Belgium, March 17, 2020. The heads of state and government of the European Union (EU) agreed during the video conference on Tuesday to endorse a temporary restriction on travels to the EU territory amid coronavirus concerns. (European Union/Handout via Xinhua)

Russian energy giant Gazprom has so far failed to respond to increased demand for gas from the European Union, according to EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

“While Gazprom has honoured its long-term contracts with us, it did not respond to higher demand as it did in previous years,” she told the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday.

The whole world was affected by the rise in energy prices, but there was “something specific” in the European situation, she said.

Von der Leyen did not comment on possible reasons for the lack of reaction to the increased demand from the EU.

Critics of the Russian energy giant suspect that it could be trying to force a rapid opening of the controversial Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline, which Moscow argues will ease supply issues but which is still awaiting Germany regulatory approval.

Increasing energy prices will be a topic at the EU summit this Thursday and Friday.

The EU imported 90 per cent of the gas it consumes, a fact that made the bloc “vulnerable,” von der Leyen said, adding that the situation could be improved by more diversification of supply sources and an acceleration of the transition to clean energy.

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