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The Maastricht Diplomat

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[Al Jazeera] Italy promotes southern gas pipeline to become Europe's energy hub

Italy on Thursday announced ambitious plans to become a European energy hub by expanding a gas pipeline project during European Union (EU) talks in Brussels, a move critics said could increase Europe’s dependence on natural gas from the Middle East.

Members of the EU highlighted the need for fostering energy autonomy, stabilizing energy prices, and transitioning towards clean energy sources. The 27-nation bloc also supported a joint European effort to replace Russian gas in their energy mix. 

Amid calls for increased collaboration, especially from Eastern European states more exposed to Russian influence, and for forging new partnerships, Italy drew focus to the Southern Gas Corridor project.

The pipeline project, which aims at bringing gas from Azerbaijan, has raised concerns over human rights and unequal power dynamics, observers said.  

Human rights groups have criticized the EU’s deal with Azerbaijan, a country that has been accused of rampant corruption and repression of activists. 

Upon questioning from France, Italy showed willingness to connect its own energy sources to the European power grid and therefore ensure supply for the whole continent. How this idea could be put into practice remained a question mark.

The Southern European nation emphasized the need to consider “medium-term solutions” to the energy crisis, as critics have argued the Southern Gas Corridor failed to be a solution in the long run. 

Naysayers added that such partnerships would not contribute to creating energy autonomy but instead shift dependencies from Russia to another country accused of human rights violations. 

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022 forced EU nations including Germany to reconsider their energy partnerships with Moscow. 

Most of the EU’s member states have shown support for Ukraine, which this year was granted candidate status to join the bloc.

EuroMUN Committee: Council of the European Union (CoEU)


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