Germany to reopen dormant coal plants if Russia cuts gas supply

A threat from the Russian president would trigger the emergency plan and allow the reopening of coal-fired power plants without parliamentary authorization. Berlin planned to shut down much of its six-gigawatt national reserve of coal-fired facilities as part of its coal phase-out.

Mr Habeck, a member of the Greens in Olaf Scholz’s ruling coalition, still wants to bring Germany’s domestic coal phase-out from 2038 to 2030 forward by eight years, despite the emergency decree.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said his country could stop importing Russian coal by autumn thanks to other suppliers, such as South Africa.

“It’s something very manageable,” he said in Pretoria with South African President Cyril Ramaphos.

The EU has agreed to ban all Russian coal imports by autumn as part of the bloc’s fifth round of sanctions against Moscow, but has so far failed to agree to an embargo on the oil or gas.

Germany, which canceled the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia after the invasion, blocked EU moves to immediately ban Russian gas. Berlin has instead promised to wean itself off Kremlin-controlled imports by mid-2024.

Mr Habeck said on Tuesday a ‘breakthrough’ was imminent in the ‘next few days’ on the agreement of an EU-wide embargo on Russian oil, which requires the unanimous approval of all 27 states members.

“There are only a few states left that have problems, Hungary first and foremost,” he said after a month of frantic sanctions diplomacy ahead of the EU summit on May 30.

The European Commission had said that all EU member states could impose the oil ban by the end of the year, with the exception of landlocked and oil-dependent Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, which would have until the end of 2024.

Hungary has requested an exemption from the embargo for at least four years and wants £686million in EU funds to refit a refinery and increase the capacity of a pipeline to Croatia.

Viktor Orban, the Hungarian prime minister, told Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, that he would not discuss the sanctions at the summit until Budapest got more details on EU funding.

“It would only highlight our internal divisions without offering a realistic chance to resolve the differences. I therefore propose not to address this issue at the next European Council, ”wrote Mr. Orban in a letter to Mr. Michel consulted by the Financial Times.

Some countries, such as Poland, have announced unilateral plans to end Russian gas imports by the end of the year.

Lithuania said it was the first EU country to become completely independent of Russian energy imports after a final contract was canceled on Sunday.

German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said on Tuesday it was impossible to say how much it would cost to rebuild Ukraine after EU talks on how to fund more aid to Kyiv.

“The Ukrainian side doesn’t talk much about reconstruction. The priority is to stop the war,” Lindner said.

“No one can quantify how much it is necessary to rebuild the country.”

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