Italy prime minister: EU can cut Russian energy dependence sooner than thought

Alberto Brambilla 4/17/2022

(Bloomberg) — Europe can reduce energy dependence on Russia quicker than previously estimated, Mario Draghi said in an interview with Corriere della Sera.

“Diversification is possible and feasible relatively quickly, shorter than we imagined just a month ago,” the Italian prime minister said after reaching an agreement to increase gas imports from Algeria.

“We have gas in storage and will have new gas from other suppliers,” Draghi said, adding that the affects of any “containment measures” would be mild. “We are talking about a 1-2 degrees reduction in heating temperatures and similar variations for air conditioners.”

Italy’s proposal to cap prices for natural gas used to generate power in order to reduce dependence on Russia is “gaining consensus” among other European countries, Draghi said in his first newspaper interview since he took office in February 2021.

“Europe continues to finance Russia by purchasing oil and gas, among other things, at a price that has no relation to historical values ​​and production costs,” he said. 

Italy currently gets about 40% of its gas from Russia, and Draghi has sought alternative sources since President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine in February.

He also said that he’s starting to agree with those who say that talking to Putin is “useless” and “a waste of time.”  

“I have the impression that the horror of war with its carnage, with what they have done to children and women, is completely independent of the words and phone calls that are made.”

Italy’s government is “focused on what needs to be done” and Draghi has no intention to leave, dismissing speculations about a highly fragmented coalition. In national elections due next year,  Draghi said he wouldn’t be a candidate and would participate as “a simple voter.”

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