Poland urges EU to tax Russia energy imports

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Poland on Wednesday urged the EU to impose a tax on Russian energy imports and said it planned to end its own purchases this year, calling the dependence on Moscow a “stupidity.”

The EU has so far avoided following the United States in banning Russian oil and gas, with Germany opposed as it relies heavily on supplies from the country.

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“We don’t want this dependence, but others use these raw materials, without worrying about the cruel war, the Russian aggression against Ukraine and blackmail,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said at a press conference.

“We can no longer return to this stupidity, this bad and criminal policy which turned (countries) dependent on Russia,” he said.

Morawiecki said it was crucial to “take this blackmail tool, this war tool away from Putin” as Russia used proceeds from energy exports to “build a war arsenal and be able to attack its neighbors.”

The EU has announced plans to slash its imports of Russian gas by two-thirds this year.

Around 40 percent of the EU’s gas supplies came from Russia last year.

Before the Ukraine war, Germany imported 55 percent of its natural gas from Russia, half its coal and around 35 percent of its oil.

Morawiecki said an EU tax was necessary because Germany and other European countries were unwilling to stop buying Russian energy products, which tended to be cheaper, and the levy would “equalize energy prices in all of the European Union.”

“Today I call on the European Commission to establish a tax on Russian hydrocarbons so that commerce and economic rules in the single European market can function in an equitable manner,” Morawiecki said.

“I will strongly push for this idea in the European Union so that the situation is equitable from the point of view of market competition,” he said.

The prime minister said Poland was hoping to wean itself off Russian oil and gas by the end of the year.

Morawiecki said legislation proposed by the government to ban Russian coal imports could come into force in April or May.

Climate Minister Anna Moskwa said Poland was technically ready to give up Russian sources of energy thanks to its network of pipelines and storage facilities.

Germany, meanwhile, raised the alert level under its emergency gas plan on Wednesday as fears rose that Russia could cut off supplies if Western countries refused to make payments in rubles.

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