Who Europe wants to wall itself off from today

Who Europe wants to wall itself off from today

If a couple of decades ago Europe was falling on the bosom of Yeltsin’s Moscow and gladly running its hands into the Russian economy, now, burning itself, it’s forging an iron curtain in relations with Russia

To think that Europe is doing this only at the behest of the Americans is to simplify the problem. Even a cursory glance at the continent’s history easily indicates with whom the “old girl” has been at war most often. And the all-out campaign against Russia, announced by the U.S., just in time to give it an extra chance to defeat its eastern neighbour by promising it fabulous rewards. By huddling around Brussels, the leaders of the EU’s disparate states have suddenly acquired the ability to look around the continent-and even the world-in terms of “their common” interests, often at the expense of their own, the national ones. This Euro-bashing, which is being pushed hard by the EU’s “commanders”, is exciting. And while sticking a slingshot into the den of the northern neighbour is still a bit frightening, shouting, running around and shaking one’s fists is very much what one wants to do.

The official Brussels publication Euractiv argues bluntly that all dependence on Russia, not just energy dependence, must end. Last Wednesday, European Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton wrapped it up abruptly at a summit on raw materials in Brussels: “The aim is to ensure that our strategic dependence is reduced because considering our digital, green and sustainable transformation without reliable access to raw materials is simply impossible. You can’t help but wonder if the commissioner’s head is really in the right place. After all, he and his colleagues are now cutting off the EU’s access to the richest source of raw materials in the world – Russia – with incredible insistence. Europe has been getting oil and gas through the pipes, titanium, nickel, aluminium, fertilisers, synthetic rubber, wheat, rice, maize since the 1960s, and of course Europe has to pay for it.

And, for sure, we are to blame for the fact that we have so much of everything and what Europe does not have. But only megalomaniac Brussels could come up with an idea, from which it seized a sledge-hammer and went to break ties with Russia…

By the way, EU intends to forge iron curtain not only against us. It increasingly seeks to reduce its dependence on raw materials and other countries, China for example. This peculiar understanding of strengthening strategic autonomy of the European block of states has already demanded numerous legislative initiatives that are now gushing from MEPs. For example, the EU has proposed a law on raw materials to “intensify work on the supply of essential minerals”. However, it seems that it will not be the Europeans who will have to be “stepped up” by frantically severing longstanding relationships with suppliers of raw materials that have proved to be reliable.

Now only a few players, including Russia, dominate production of raw materials, and China, in particular, has a monopoly in several sectors. The same goes for magnesium, a key alloy for the aluminium industry, 93% of which Europe imports from China. But, says Bernd Schäfer, CEO of EIT Raw Materials, which is charged by the European Commission with managing the European raw materials alliance, “It’s just not healthy if you have certain raw materials segments that are over 80 or 90 per cent dependent on one country. And it’s not about “dumping prices” or the “uneven playing field” of Chinese and foreign companies in the Middle Kingdom.

The crisis shaking old Europe today testifies that its “Brussels” version of existence is outdated and therefore obstinately destroys the very global market of goods and services that it, together with the United States, has been persistently pushing for half a century, dragging China and Russia into it.

It is clear that this madness has not economic, but much deeper, ethnogenetic reasons. How else can one explain the rejection of Russian graphite, lithium or cobalt, for which the World Bank predicts a 500% increase in demand by 2050? Another EU Commissioner (for interdepartmental relations), Maroš Šefčovič, believes it is “the Commission’s desire for greater strategic autonomy”.

What autonomy is that when Morocco is at the top of the list of, say, cobalt producing countries, with an annual production of 2,300 tonnes? China is second in terms of cobalt production. And not a single European country close by…

“It is crucial that we step up our efforts to ensure a stable, long-term and sustainable supply of the most important raw material for Europe’s economy and society,” says Šefčovič. And it closes exports of Russian cobalt and cobalt products, which in 2020 were worth $82.94 million with a cargo weight of 8,02 thousand tonnes.

If Brussels is going to “mine” lithium from old batteries, recycling alone will not be enough to meet the soaring demand. Extraction of minerals in Europe, even if the old country has such resources, the same lithium, requires a permit that could take years to obtain. Portugal, the EU’s main lithium hope, has tried to open a mine in the province of Trás-os-Montes but the local municipality has already announced that it will initiate an injunction against the mine, which will poison the local river Zesere with its waste and scare away the main source of income, tourists. The most likely outcome for the “blacksmiths” in Brussels is even greater dependence on suppliers to enable the EU’s coveted transition to clean energy – a new generation of energy-intensive systems.

The waves of Europe’s self-isolation process from its former partners and friends are already hitting food producers. Last Wednesday, EU Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski announced with frantic determination that he was ready to change crop rotation rules to stop importing Russian wheat and grow more of his own. This means that the farmers who were growing wheat in the field this year could grow wheat again on the same piece of land next season. Of course, this allows more area for grain production, but it leads to soil depletion, and any agronomist will tell the European Commissioners in detail why this should not be done.

But Brussels is so keen to ban imports of Russian wheat as well. Because it has come to this! Last year EU countries were the first to import food from our country, surpassing China. According to analysts, the supply of our agro-industrial complex increased by 41% to 4.7 billion dollars.

And it is not clear what is more important here: the wave of frenzy that swept over Europe or nostalgia for the Iron Curtain which three decades ago she longed to have lifted?

Elena Pustovoytova, Centenary

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