Ukraine crisis: Poland calls for an EU energy union

WARSAW (AFP) - Poland has begun campaigning in favour of an EU energy union in order to reduce the bloc's dependence on Russian supplies, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Tuesday.

"We're pursuing efforts both on the diplomatic front and on an expert level in Brussels," he told reporters, before laying out six concrete proposals.

"The Ukraine context... means that the question of energy independence, not just of Poland but of the entire continent, is starting to take on an importance that extends beyond the economic factor." The EU member, which shares a border with Ukraine and is Central Europe's largest economy, currently relies on imports, mainly from Russia, for two-thirds of the natural gas it consumes.

According to Tusk, 10 EU members are heavily dependent on Russian gas, including some whose reliance reaches 100 per cent.

He said Warsaw would present half a dozen proposals to its partners in the 28-nation European Union on how to increase their energy security, including through common energy purchases.

The announcement comes a week after EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy said the bloc's leaders had agreed to outline an energy security framework at their next top-level meeting in June.

Poland will also suggest that the EU encourage new energy suppliers, notably the United States.

"Once the US decides to export its shale gas, the situation on the global energy market, especially in Europe, will change dramatically. This will not only increase security but also promote lower prices," Tusk said.

He also reiterated Poland's resolve to continue mining coal, a key pillar of its energy strategy.

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