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EU rolls out 300 billion euro package to wean Europe off Russian gas

The European Union’s executive arm is moving to jumpstart plans for the 27-nation bloc to abandon Russian energy amid the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine, proposing a nearly 300 billion euro ($315 billion) package that includes more efficient use of fuels and faster rollout of renewable power.

The European Commission’s investment initiative is meant to help the 27 EU countries start weaning themselves off Russian fossil fuels this year. The goal is to deprive Russia, the EU’s main supplier of oil, natural gas and coal, of tens of billions in revenue and strengthen EU climate policies.

“We are taking our ambition to yet another level to make sure that we become independent from Russian fossil fuels as quickly as possible,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says in Brussels when announcing the package, dubbed REPowerEU.

The bloc’s dash to ditch Russian energy stems from a combination of voluntary and mandatory actions. Both reflect the political discomfort of helping fund Russia’s military campaign in a country that neighbors the EU and wants to join the bloc.

In a bid to swing Hungary behind the oil phaseout, the REPowerEU package expects oil-investment funding of around 2 billion euros for member nations highly dependent on Russian oil.

Energy savings and renewables form the cornerstones of the package, which would be funded mainly by an economic stimulus program put in place to help member countries overcome the slump triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

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