Irene Hahn-Fuhr and Rebecca Harms commenting on Tusk's energy union

In the course of the EU election campaign, the Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk presented his vision for a European Energy Union, which is supposed to end European dependence of Russian gas, which he identified as the essential problem of European Foreign Policy in the Ukraine-Crisis. However, it encountered immediate criticism from green politicians, as his program, which is based on six key-points, strongly supports fossil energy sources.

"Tagesspiegel" published on 22.04.2014  an article "Polen will die EU unabhängiger machen" ("Poland want to make the EU independent) (in German), where strong and weak sides of the Tusk proposition are thorougly analyzed. Green voices are represented by Irene Hahn-Fuhr, director of the Heinrich-Böll-Foundation in Warsaw, and Rebecca Harms, Co-President of the Greens/ EFA in the European Parliament.

The first point of Tusk's idea is to strengthen energy solidarity among EU’s member states, so in cases of an energy shortage in one member-state, the others could support it, as this was already the case in the 2009 incident where Russia cut the Ukrainian gas supplies and put dependant countries, as Slovakia, Hungary and Poland at risk. Second, the EU should increase its investment in energy infrastructure, especially in the East European Member States. The third key-point is, to build an European institute that is responsible for the energy purchases of all the member-states. This idea would strengthen the bargaining position against the Russian state-own company Gazprom, but is very difficult to implement. The fourth point is especially important as it proposes a stronger focus on fossil fuels as coal, shale and natural gas. This idea is strongly opposed to the objectives of the European Climate and Energy Package, especially the reduction of CO2 emissions. The fifth proposal recommends the diversification of energy supply sources, such as imports of shale gas from the USA. However, the conversion of this plan would need Americans to change their trade laws and also develop the required infrastructure. The last step in the proposed program would be an enlargement of the already weak energy solidarity between EU-members, to EU neighbor states, as Ukraine and Moldavia.

Some suggestions, such as the extended energy solidarity and the common purchase of energy on European level were welcomed by the greens, others were strongly criticized: Rebecca Harms, Co-President of the Greens/ EFA in the European Parliament, stated that a stronger focus on energy efficiency would be more sustainable than the use of fossil energy sources, and would help to minimize CO2 emissions. Also the cooperation between EU members concerning energy efficiency must be increased. Irene Hahn-Fuhr, director of the Heinrich-Böll-Foundation in Warsaw, criticized the ambivalent signals sent from the German quarrels with their energy transition, for creating insecurity on the polish side about the prospects of renewable energies.

Not only is energy efficiency not mentioned in Tusk's program, also the huge potential of renewable energies in Poland is not mentioned, as coal makes up for 90% of Poland´s energy production. However, as reported in a study of the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung ("Greening the Heartlands of Coal in Europe"), over 40% of the Polish coal generation plants are more than 40 years old. This need for investment furthers another fear of the greens, the decrease of investment in renewable energy sources to the benefit of coal and gas.

The same aims are expressed in the proposition of the German Green Party to the German Bundestag, which states that they expect the government to focus on the saving of energy, energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, being the best way to getting energy- independent.