German employers and trade unions united to oppose the EU’s immediate ban on the import of natural gas from Russia due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying the move would lead to the closure of factories and the loss of jobs in the group’s largest economy.
“A rapid gas embargo will lead to production losses, work stoppages, further de industrialization and the long-term loss of jobs in Germany,” Reina duerg, President of the Federation of German employers’ associations, and Reina Hoffman, President of the Federation of German trade unions, said in a joint statement on Monday at the German news agency.
The statement comes as European leaders are discussing possible new energy sanctions against Russian oil. Earlier, European leaders decided on April 7 to ban Russian coal imports from August. Ukrainian leaders said that the income from Russian energy exports provided funds for Moscow’s destructive war against Ukraine, which must be ended.
This is not easy to do.
About 40% of the natural gas of the 27 EU countries comes from Russia and about 25% of the oil comes from Russia. Energy analysts say natural gas will be the hardest to lack, as most of the gas comes from Russian pipelines and the supply of liquefied gas that can be ordered by ship is limited in the face of strong global demand.
Germany is a major manufacturing center and an importer of Russian natural gas. So far, Germany has refused to shut down its natural gas supply immediately and said it plans to phase out Russian oil by the end of this year and eliminate most Russian gas imports by mid-2024.
The EU executive committee has proposed some measures to reduce Russia’s natural gas consumption by two thirds by the end of the year by using more pipeline natural gas from Norway and Azerbaijan, importing more liquefied gas, accelerating the deployment of wind and solar energy projects and strengthening protection.
In an interview with Funke media group, German Deputy Prime Minister Robert habeck said, “the immediate implementation of the natural gas embargo will endanger social peace in Germany.”
Despite extensive economic sanctions against Russian banks and individuals, the EU still supplies about $850 million of oil and gas to Russia every day, despite EU governments’ condemnation of the Ukrainian war. Gas intensive companies include producers of glass, metals, ceramics and chemicals. Industry officials said that in many cases, natural gas could not be replaced in the short term.
Analysts said that Russian crude oil is easier to replace than natural gas, but the boycott will still lead to higher energy prices, which will hit consumers already facing a record 7.5% EU inflation.