Europe needs an energy union to safeguard its independence and competitiveness, a top EU official said on Friday as the threat of a Russian gas cut hung over some member states.
"We need a European Energy Union to regain our energy independence and security, as well as our industrial competitiveness," Michel Barnier, European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services and Industry told delegates to a banking symposium in Warsaw.
He echoed Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk who in April urged the 28-member EU to come up with a blanket energy strategy to mitigate the threat of Russia cutting gas supplies via Ukraine.
Moscow has threatened to cut off supplies to Ukraine from June 3 after switching to up-front payments because Kiev has amassed a gas debt of $3.5 billion (2.6 billion euros).
Nearly 15 percent of all gas consumed in the EU is delivered from Russia via Ukraine and Brussels fears that a cutoff could lead to disruptions in supplies to the EU.
Central European leaders vowed this week to forge a gas solidarity mechanism aimed at counteracting supply cuts from Russia.