‘EU is completely politically and economically irrational dealing with Russia’
RT:Austria's unequivocallybackedSouth Stream. Why would they do that when other European countries are calling for the project to be frozen?
Patrick Young: The situation we have at the moment is an argument between frankly the economically irrational and those who are energy rational. Austria is one of the leading countries in that group. The Austrian government knows that ultimately one third of their gas comes from Russia. In some areas of Austria almost 100 percent of their gas comes from Russia. The similar situation is that large parts of Western Europe exist in a very old nirvana kind of state, where they don’t appreciate how much energy they need or indeed where it comes from. Many of them think that it comes from renewables, yet spending tens of billions only gives them roughly one percent renewable energy. The truth of the matter is that ultimately about a third of Europe's energy need comes from Russia at the moment. In the situation where the world has become more unstable in the last fortnight, thanks to ISIS and so on in the Middle East, we have a situation where ultimately Europe needs Russian gas, and the sooner we have European pragmatism, the better it is going to be. That is what Austria understands.
RT:Is Europe mixing up its politics and economics with regards to South Stream?
PY: I think you can say that actually Europe mixes up its politics and its economics. After all, why would we have a Lalaland project like the euro that was actually economic rationalism? The whole position within the European Union is one of trying to create the great power empire without understanding the necessary economics that come behind it. Therefore, energy policy in Europe is a complete and utter ludicrous mess. Even in countries such as Germany they are proclaiming some sort of weird eco-mantra on one side, and actually burning more coal. Ultimately Europe needs this gas; European Union is being completely politically and economically irrational in terms of how they are dealing with the whole Russian incident at the moment.
RT:On the other hand, Gazprom holds a huge share in the European gas market... isn't that cause to worry?
PY: Europe has got an opportunity if it wants to diversify and they can do it very easily, I mean it can frack its way to freedom. But again, you have got an incredibly spineless energy policy going on in many countries. Look at the way Chancellor Merkel as a knee-jerk reaction closed all of her nuclear power plants simply because she was worried about the risk of a tsunami, which are not particularly common hitting the Baltic Sea. Therefore you have a problem, Europe can solve it itself if Europe wants to diversify away from Russian energy, it can find sources within its own shores by using the fracking power. But a thing that I find particularly worrying is that the offer at the moment is a pivot to endless numbers of ships coming from the US to supply Europe with gas from where they have fracked it in the US. That makes no sense whatsoever. It’s not a particularly effective way to transit the gas itself, it is going to be incredibly costly to bring together, and Europe is going to be jumping out of bed with one partner, Russia, into the bed with the another partner, the US, who ultimately has proven to be very fickle as recent spying scandals have shown.
It’s absolutely fascinating, isn’t it? We have an arguable alcoholic, who couldn’t manage to control a tram load of secret agents in Luxembourg, could well be the European Commission President by the end of this week. We have got a situation where Mrs. Merkel, a research scientist, ignores all of the science in order to go populist. It’s really very worrying all together. At this moment Europe is being run by a group of politicians who are ultimately incontinent and incompetent when it comes to both economic and energy policies, and given the fact that that is going to be the security and the future of the EU, it’s a tragedy. Europe needs a better political deal, Europe needs both energy and security and economic growth. At the moment the political pigmies are delivering neither.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.