Energy Security and Requirement of the EU and Role of Turkey as an Energy Corridor




The demand of the leading countries in energy consumption is expected to increase by 35% by 2035. It is estimated that in 2035, fossil fuels will continue to be the main source of energy with 85%. After the sign Paris Agreement, the World try to use a lower-carbon energy system, so renewable energy become prominent as an alternative option (Aykin, Tache and Karaman, 2017, p.287-288).

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Secure energy supply is vitally important for all countries. The European Commission described energy security as the ability of all consumers to access energy products in the market at an uninterrupted and reasonable price. However, there are so many risks such as economic, regulatory, physical, social, political, environmental, extreme weather conditions and equipment failure. All governments develop a variety of policies to provide more reliable, affordable and risk-free energy (Aykin, Tache and Karaman, 2017, p.287-288). The EU is highly dependent on Russia in the field of energy. However, Energy trade is a key issue in EU-Russia relations. Nearly half of the gas delivered from Russia to the EU passes through Ukraine (Siddi, 2016, p.108). The energy security of the EU is always under threat due to the tensions between Russia and Ukraine. Both the EU and Russia dwell on new routes, such as Turkey.

The geographical location of Turkey provides an advantage to be an energy corridor. Although it does not have important energy resources, this unique location enables Turkey to one of the region’s key states (Ersen and Celikpala, 2019, p.585). Turkey has already many pipelines. It is becoming indispensable for the EU, especially in gas supply. Due to the most important country of the southern gas corridor will possibly strengthen its own position in the future (Winrow, 2013, p.145-146).

The aim of this paper is to define the energy issues of the European Union (EU) and to identify the potential and future of Turkey in securing energy supply to the EU. Firstly, general information was given about the energy consumption and current state of the EU, the EU-Russia relations were defined, the steps taken by the EU in the field of energy security were examined and finally, Turkey’s importance to provide energy to the EU was mentioned.

2.Energy Issues of the EU


2.1 An Outlook of the EU’s Energy

Large population and high living standards of Europe cause great energy consumption. As one of the world’s greatest energy importer, the EU is a foreign-dependent region on energy. There is a significant difference between Europe’s energy production and consumption, which makes almost all European countries dependent on external energy. Energy imports account for one-fifth of the EU’s total imports. Some member states such as Cyprus, Luxembourg, and Malta highly dependent on foreign energy sources, while some of them like Estonia, the Czech Republic, and Romania less dependent. However, the EU has targets such as reducing the greenhouse gas rate, growing renewable energy and increasing energy efficiency. In addition, the EU is looking for ways to increase energy diversity (Bahgat, 2015, p.61-62).

About 70% of their own sources are located in 5 member countries and provide only almost half of energy consumption. Moreover, considering the ever-increasing energy needs of EU member states, it is estimated that by 2030, foreign energy dependence will increase to 75%.  The EU is dependent to export on oil by 83% and gas by 65%. Russia, the Middle East, and the North Sea are the main energy suppliers of the EU (Koukoudakis, 2017, p.109). While petrol and petroleum products account for 33.8% of the EU’s total energy consumption, the share of gas, 23.3%; solid fuels, 17.5 %; nuclear power, 13.5%; and renewables, 11.0% (Bahgat, 2015, p.62-63).

According to data of 2018, the EU imported gas from Russia, Norway, Algeria, and Qatar at 40.2%, 35%, 11.3% and 5.8%, respectively; and oil import of EU was at 27.5% from Russia and 11.2% from Norway. Energy imports accounted for 17% of total EU imports, while the share of oil was 12%, gas was 4%. Italy, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom are the main gas and oil importers (, 2019).

2.2 Russia-the EU Relations

Gas and oil trade have always played a key role in European-Russian relations. The Soviet Union first began selling gas and oil by way of pipelines to the members of the Warsaw Pact in the 1960s. A short time later, many other Europe countries such as Italy, Finland, France, Austria, and West Germany became a significant purchaser for the fossil fuels. After the 1973-1974 oil crisis, the strategic impact of Soviet gas and oil increased in Europe. Soviet gas exports almost doubled between 1980 and 1990 under the influence of the Urengoy-Uzhgorod pipeline, which was initiated in 1983 and shipment Siberian gas to Europe. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Russia continued to be Europe’s main gas supplier because it held important fossil fuel fields (Siddi, 2016, p.108). Europe imported 40% of gas, 30% of crude oil and 39% solid fuel from Russia (, 2019). This commercial relationship is vitally important for Russia as well as for Europe. Energy sales account for a large portion of Russia’s total export revenue, and Europe is one of the main targets of these exports (Siddi, 2016, p.108). Although the share of gas in this energy trade is much lower than crude oil and petroleum products, it is the main subject of the discussions. The main reason for this is that East-Central European countries do not have the capacity to back up Russian gas and cannot trust Russia due to historical events.

Russian gas is transported to Europe via three main pipelines: the Ukrainian pipeline network, the Yamal-Europe pipeline, and the Nord Stream pipeline. The gas flow from Russia to the EU took place smoothly until 2004, but this situation began to change with the Orange Revolution in Ukraine. There were disputes between Moscow and the new Ukrainian government, which pro-NATO and pro-EU, on gas prices. As a result of these disputes, gas flow interruptions occurred in 2006 and 2009, and especially Central and Eastern European countries were severely affected by these interruptions. Hence, it is revealed that European states should have resource diversity for gas security (Siddi, 2016, p.109-110). As a result of recent disagreements, Russia wants to exclude the Ukrainian pipeline, but it is not possible to do so in the short term because a large part of the gas exported to Europe is transferred via this line. Many countries such as Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Romania, Slovenia, and Bulgaria directly depend on the Ukrainian line and most Balkan countries do not have enough substructure in order to supply gas from somewhere else in the state of emergency (Siddi, 2016, p.111).

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After 2019, Russia wants to by-pass Ukraine in gas shipping to the EU, but the EU wants to keep Ukraine in the energy market for various reasons (Siddi, 2016, p.111). However, Gazprom has implemented Turk Stream and Nord Stream II projects as an alternative to the Ukrainian pipeline. Nevertheless, the total capacity of two projects is 86.5 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas per year while the Ukrainian pipeline’s capacity is 147 bcm of gas ( 2019). The tension between Russia and Ukraine appears to continue to threaten EU energy supply security.

2.3 Security of Energy Supply of the EU

According to The European Commission energy security is “the ability to ensure that future essential energy needs can be met, both by means of adequate domestic resources worked under economically acceptable conditions or maintained as strategic reserves, and by calling upon accessible and stable external sources supplemented where appropriate by strategic stocks” (Koukoudakis, 2017, p.109). Most European states do not have enough domestic energy sources; thus, they need to import energy, hence the security of supply is vital importance for them. Purchasing of energy from the various provider is the best way for energy security to prevent possible supply shocks. Security of demand for energy suppliers is long-term agreements with buyers, reducing price volatility, increasing the number of the purchaser and tackling the competition of other providers (Siddi, 2018, p.1556).

Since in the late 2000s, there are some problems between the EU and Russia on the security of energy. In the early 2000s in spite of increasing energy prices Gazprom, which state energy company of Russia, offered acceptable prices, hence the EU did long term contracts with this Russian company. Furthermore, the EU wanted Russia to adopt liberal economic rules in the energy trade of the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT). However, in 2009, Russia declared that it would not be a party to this agreement. This attitude of Russia against ETC was disputing the liberal market principles of the West. Moreover, in the late 2000s energy prices decreased because of the shale revolution and the global economic crisis. The EU aimed to renegotiate its long-term agreements with Gazprom because cheaper gas was available in the energy market. Prices in these contracts were renegotiated and made improvements for purchasers. However, this situation created an unclear circumstance over the continuation of the contracts (Siddi, 2018, p.1557).

Many pipeline projects such as the Southern Gas Corridor and the Nabucco pipeline, which enable to import gas from Caspian basin countries without Russia, has been supported by the EU. By doing so, the EU is trying to counter Russia’s power and impact in the region. In addition, the EU enforces regulatory legislation to control relations with energy suppliers. For instance, the EU restricts the ownership of energy distribution assets by the non-EU providers via the so-called `Gazprom clause` (Siddi, 2018, p.1558).

3. Role of Turkey

Turkey aims to be an important energy corridor using the geopolitical position (Aykin, Tache and Karaman, 2017, p.294). Turkey located between oil and gas rich countries and region that greatest energy-consuming in the west. In addition, Turkey has two important straits: Bosphorus and Dardanelle. Approximately 3% of the world’s oil trade is shipping through the Turkish straits (Ersen and Celikpala, 2019, p.586).

Turkey’s significance for the energy security of the EU has been accepted many times by EU officials and EU documents. The EU stated in EU’s Energy Security Strategy of 2014 that the Southern Corridor project is very important for the EU’s energy security. Turkey appears as an alternative energy route for the EU against Russia (Koukoudakis, 2017, p.111-112). The southern gas corridor is very important for Europe’s energy diversification goals. This fourth gas corridor seeks to transport the Caspian and Gulf gas to Europe via Turkey. Due to the sanctions imposed on Tehran, Europe cannot transfer from Iran. The EU, therefore, focuses more on the gas coming from the Caspian basin (Winrow, 2013, p.150).

The North-South corridor and the East-West corridor are two main lines in order to transfer natural gas to Europe via Turkey. The Blue Stream pipeline, which opened in 2003, is providing gas flow from under of Black Sea from Russia to Samsung which is a Turkish port. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline which transports Azerbaijan’s oil to Turkey opened in 2006. Thanks to this line, Caspian oil transfers without shipping via Russia. In 2007, the Caspian gas line was connected to Greece with Turkey–Greece interconnector (ITG), and this was the first time that Caspian gas reached Europe without passing through Russia. As a result of connecting the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP), which opened in 2018, with the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), which expected to open in 2020, Azerbaijan gas will transport to Europe via Turkey, Greece, Albania, and Italy (Koukoudakis, 2017, p.112-113). TANAP will supply the EU with 16 billion cubic meters of gas per year at the first step, following years, this will be increased to 20 billion cubic meters. This project might be a vital importance Turkey be a significant energy corridor (Guo, Huang and Wu, 2019, p.833).

One of the Gazprom’s two important projects Turk Stream to supply gas to Europe will pass Turkish territory while bypassing Ukraine. Turk Stream was designed as an alternative to the Trans-Balkan pipeline through Ukraine. This project was announced by Vladimir Putin who is Russian President in December 2014. South Stream has found to be against EU legislation and this project replaced it. As a bridge EU–Russia gas trade, Turkey’s strategic position will strengthen through this pipeline. Moreover, Turkey is the second-biggest gas importer of Russia and Russia will provide the gas flow to Turkey through this project without Ukraine (Siddi, 2018, p.1561-1562). When the project completed, it is estimated to shipping 31.5 bcm per year and half of this amount to the Turkish domestic market and the other half to the European purchaser (Guo, Huang and Wu, 2019, p. 834). However, the completion of the project is connected directly to the good relationship between Turkey and Russia. The project ceased after a Russian warplane was shot down by Turkish jets in 2015. After the failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 2015, Turkey tended from its western allies to Eastern countries and increasing Russian-Turkish cooperation accelerated the Turkish Stream process (Siddi, 2018, p.1562-1563).


After the crisis in Ukraine, it became clear how vulnerable the EU’s energy security. Reducing dependency on Russia and diversifying resources might minimize this vulnerability. Although the EU does not have an economic problem in the energy field, scarcity of resources and routes pose the main problem. Furthermore, if the Union acts jointly within itself, it can react faster to external threats and maximize energy efficiency. However, such a union is not yet achieved. It is obvious that Turk Stream, TANAP and TAP projects are very important for the EU. Nevertheless, The EU should not only depend on Turkey as an energy supply line, but also it should think to create new energy routes which cross over the Mediterranean. The EU should express to countries which have the ability energy supply that joining the EU market will provide not only energy security but also business opportunities, so peace and prosperity in the region will increase.

Turkey has determined objectives to be the energy corridor and it is implementing single-mindedly these. Turkey may be an indispensable energy rota for the EU, if it uses properly its strategic location. There is no another possible alternative for the EU to reach Caspian basin gas. This trump in the hands of Turkey may be very important to become an EU member. One of the biggest problems of the EU’s security of energy supply is regional crises. There are well historical ties with countries in the Caspian region to Turkey and Turkey may implement soft power through these ties when needed. Turkey should be on good relations with the region countries, the EU and Russia to realize its goals. However, Turkey has problems with the EU on the Cyprus issue and despite it is in cooperation with Russia on the Syria crisis and buying S-400 missile system, the relations are very sensitive. Despite all adversities, to develop cooperation between Turkey and the EU would bring numerous advantages for two sides.


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