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EU should seek energy treaty with Russia-draft

Written by: Staff
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BRUSSELS, March 2 (Reuters) The European Union should seek an energy treaty with Russia as part of its drive to forge a common policy on oil, gas and electricity, according to a draft policy paper prepared by the bloc's executive arm.

The latest version of the European Commission's green paper on energy, obtained by Reuters today, also suggests an international treaty on energy efficiency, and new gas pipelines to the Caspian region and north Africa.

''A common approach is particularly important with regard to Russia... Work should start towards an EU-Russia energy treaty,'' said the paper, which can still be modified before the 25-member EU executive adopts it next Wednesday.

Among the principles such a treaty should enshrine would be ''fair and reciprocal access to markets and infrastructure''.

EU leaders are due to discuss a common energy policy at their next summit on March 23-24 and the paper will form the basis for their debate.

Several member states have bilateral energy agreements with Russia but the EU has no overarching energy treaty with Moscow and diplomats say the question of who handles energy ties with the giant supplier could be a key point of dispute.

''A true partnership would offer security and predictability for both sides, paving the way for the necessary long-term investment in new capacity,'' the Commission paper said.

The debate on a common energy policy was given new urgency by Russia's move in January to cut off gas supplies to Ukraine temporarily over failure to agree a new pricing and supply deal.

The dispute resulted in lower supplies to Europe as most Russian gas passes through pipelines crossing Ukraine.

MORE REUTERS SI PM2317

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