End of the import of Russian coal by the EU: concretely, what does this change?

The embargo on Russian coal is part of the range of sanctions aimed at Russia following the invasion of Ukraine. The measure, effective Wednesday August 10, was notably chosen because it was easier to apply than a complete embargo on gas or oil.

How to replace Russian coal?

This decision obliges the EU and France to rethink their energy production. Before the war in Ukraine, Russian coal accounted for 45% of total coal imports into the European Union. An amount that reached 70% for the thermal coal used in certain power plants which are running at full speed, particularly in Germany, requested to replace the nuclear power plants closed under pressure from environmental parties.

A rejection of nuclear power in favor of highly polluting thermal power stations which concerns other European countries, and in fact leads to a significant increase in Europe’s coal needs. Russian imports were nevertheless able to be blocked fairly quickly because the other producers are numerous and available: South Africa, Australia, the United States and Colombia.

What consequences for Russia?

The European Union is pinning great hopes on a halt to Russian coal imports to put pressure on Vladimir Putin’s regime. A pious hope, even if other countries in the world, such as the United Kingdom or Japan, participate in this embargo.

Last April, when the European Commission proposed to do without coal produced in Russia as soon as possible, the European Parliament, concerned about the limits of such a process, had moreover outbid by asking for an immediate blocking of imports. For logistical and contractual reasons, it took four months before the measure became effective.

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A period nevertheless quite short given the volumes involved. It must be said that Russian coal exports to the European Union represented nearly four billion euros per year.

Still, in the energy sector as in other areas, Russia has already found other partners for a large part of its exports, notably China, India and Iran.

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