Wednesday, May 11, 2022

In 2006 Poland wanted to build an "energy NATO"

 On May 9, the Polish portal that deals with energy issues, Energetyka24, published an article by Jakub Wiech which claims that in 2006 under the presidency of Lech Kaczynski Poland came up with the idea of ​​creating an organization that we may call an "energy NATO". If this project were to come to fruition, many of today's problems - for example Russian gas blackmail - would have been avoided.

When most of Europe under the direction of Germany enjoyed the endless rivers of Russian raw materials some Central European countries - such as Poland, Lithuania, and Croatia - have correctly seen the dangers of becoming dependent on Russia. They have started immunization processes for potential problems caused by Moscow. Their activities included the construction of infrastructure for the reception of non-Russian energy products, like LNG terminals in Świnoujście, Klaipeda, or on the island of Krk, interconnections, and gas storage facilities.

One of these countries has gone a long way in preparing the community's immunity to energy blackmail. In 2006, Poland proposed the creation of a treaty or energy alliance.

The concept proposed by the Poles was the result of the gas war that Russia waged with Ukraine in 2006 and the earlier gas crisis with Belarus in 2004, as well as a form of response to the new doctrine of Russian foreign policy, emphasizing the role of energy resources. 

The proposal was also in response to blackouts in northern Italy caused by intense winds, which resulted in disturbances in the power systems of Switzerland and France. All these events prompted the government in Warsaw to propose a special treaty, which would serve to increase energy security.

The European Energy Security Treaty (TEBE) was supposed to be "the first political instrument uniting countries in the field of mutual guarantees of energy security." The applicants pointed to the fact that in the modern world, where local problems resulting, for example, from natural disasters, technical problems, or political pressure related to energy resources very quickly spread to other regions and countries, there is a need for crisis response mechanisms based on mutual security guarantees.

The creation of a treaty, based on the potential of the EU and NATO member states could be a real game-changer for Europe's energy security. Mutually guaranteed energy resilience and developed infrastructure would not only significantly reduce Russia's capability of energy blackmail but also prepare Europeans for situations such as disruptions in energy production because of extreme weather conditions. And certainly, such an organization would be a solid foundation for the response to the Russian aggression in Ukraine.

It cannot be assumed that the implemented TEBE concept would turn out to be a success. But maybe now, 16 years later, it is worth returning to the idea?