The European Commission is formulating a proposal to reduce the European Union’s dependence on Russian gas, coal and oil, President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Monday.
Speaking to journalists prior to a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, von der Leyen condemned “Moscow’s irresponsibility towards the Ukrainian civilian population” and revealed the bloc was working on further sanctions against Russia.
The European Union already has in place three packages of tough sanctions against the Kremlin following its invasion of Ukraine, von der Leyen told journalists, but explained the bloc must now “focus on eliminating loopholes and maximizing the impact of sanctions,” adding that “the punitive measures in place are really biting, we can already see the disturbances in the Russian economy.”
The Commission will present a proposal on Tuesday on how the European Union can reduce its dependence on Russian gas, oil and coal, von der Leyen told reporters. The proposal will call for the diversification of energy supplies, investment in renewable energy sources and better energy efficiency.
In a press release, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi called on EU member states to implement the sanctions imposed on Russia as soon as possible, and expressed hope that the governments of all the member states would take action to enforce the sanctions as quickly as the Italian leadership. On Saturday, for example, the Italian government said local authorities had seized €143 million worth of villas and yachts from five senior Russian officials on the sanctions list.
“We see that some member states, including France, Germany and Italy, are taking sanctions quickly and effectively, while others are less eager,” Draghi said, while also stressing that EU unity was essential to addressing the consequences of the crisis for the EU, including the influx of refugees from Ukraine and the bloc’s energy security.
Regarding Ukraine’s application for EU membership, Draghi confirmed that Italy has no reservations, but explained that the process is long and linked to structural reform measures.
The Italian leader also lamented the failure of diplomatic efforts to resolve the Ukrainian-Russian conflict which have so far been unsuccessful, and added that he believes Russia will continue the war until all of Ukraine has surrendered and a pro-Russian government has been installed in Kyiv.