The UKIP Friends of Poland group has written to the Prime Minister questioning the European Union’s readiness to put sanctions onto Russia. The chairman Przemek Skwirczynski, who is in favour of sanctions, is nonetheless concerned that countries reliant on Russian gas are ill-prepared for any trade war that might come about.
European Union leaders are struggling to come to any consensus about what to do in the face of Russian aggression in Ukraine. They have demanded that Vladimir Putin stop assisting rebels in Eastern Ukraine who are likely to have downed MH17 with anti-Aircraft missiles supplied by the Kremlin.
But despite national security concerns in Poland, the bigger risk to their future is a lack of cheap energy, something that fracking across the EU might mitigate. At present, their economy, along with the economies of a number of central and Eastern European states, is propped up by cheap gas imports from Russia.
As the Ukraine situation continues it looks likely that greater sanctions will be put on the importation of this gas, which could damage those economies, unless an alternative is found quickly. Unfortunately, a stumbling block for both Poland and the UK is that the European Union has shown itself to be anti-fracking in the past.
Their solution is to suggest that we become less reliant on fossil fuel, something that is highly unlikely even in the medium term.
The full letter is below:
Rt Hon David Cameron MP
10 Downing Street
Cc: His Excellency Witold Sobków, The Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to the Court of St. James’s
29th July, 2014
Dear Prime Minister,
As positively surprised as we are to see the European Union begin to rise to the challenge of Russia with today’s announcement of sanctions to target full sectors of Russian economy, we are also interested in the EU’s readiness to deal with the escalation of this situation.
To recap, the announced EU sanctions are aimed at Russian oil, defence and technology sectors. As Friends of Poland, we are interested in Poland’s energy safety given its massive reliance on Russian imports. Since it is likely that Russia will retaliate, we would like to find out if the EU is prepared for gas price hikes or maybe even the supplies being turned off? Also, what specific steps have been taken by the European Union to shore up the energy security of Poland and other Eastern EU countries which are extensively reliant on Russian gas?
We certainly are in favour of shale gas extraction. The United Kingdom has been highly successful in this respect, with the most recent expansion in fracking licences announced this week being the biggest to date. Poland has sizeable shale gas reserves of its own and is amongst the most pro-shale gas EU members. We propose that, given the current situation, the United Kingdom works closely with Poland to develop both countries’ shale gas resources.
We would be grateful for your confirmation whether any steps have already been undertaken in this respect and, if not, then what would be the possibility of a British-Polish cooperation.
Przemek Skwirczynski, Chairman – Friends of Poland in UKIP