EU's Russian gas exit should be written into law, says Lithuania

(Reuters) - The European Union should fix into law its plan to quit Russian gas by 2027, Lithuania has said, in a document seen by Reuters that EU countries' energy ministers will discuss next week.

Europe's gas imports from Russia have plunged since Moscow's 2022 invasion of Ukraine, and the European Commission has suggested Europe should end its reliance on Russian fossil fuels by 2027.

But EU countries have so far avoided applying sanctions to imports of Russian gas or liquefied natural gas, on which countries including Austria and Hungary are still heavily dependent.

A document drafted by Lithuania, seen by Reuters on Thursday, suggested the European Commission propose legislation to enforce 2027 as a hard deadline for countries to phase out Russian gas and LNG.

The idea would be to give national governments firmer legal grounds for cutting Russian imports - for example, by terminating long-term contracts for Russian gas - while avoiding using sanctions.

"Such legislation should empower Member States to take the necessary measures at national level to meet such a deadline," the document said.

EU countries' energy ministers will debate the issue at a meeting in Brussels on Monday.

The EU is also in the process of approving gas market rules that would let countries block Russian imports by preventing Russian firms from booking capacity on their gas and LNG infrastructure.

But some EU countries have said it is not clear if they can use this option - which could have ripple effects outside of the importing country's borders. For example, Belgium and Spain both import Russian LNG and then send the fuel onwards to buyers in other nations.

Europe's pipeline imports of gas from Russia have plunged since the Ukraine war began, but LNG imports have not.

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