March 5. 2024. 1:22

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Italy to use EU funds to become energy hub for Europe, Meloni says

Italy intends to use funds coming from the European Union under the so-called REPowerEU plan to completely wean itself off Russian gas and turn the country into energy hub for the bloc, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said in a statement.

Meloni, who met on Monday (6 February) with relevant ministers and the CEOs of energy groups Eni, Enel, Snam and Terna, mentioned the need to cooperate with Africa on energy supplies.

With total funds close to €300 billion ($321.36 billion), the REPowerEU plan is aimed at ending the EU’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels and tackling the climate crisis.

It includes about €225 billion of untapped loans made available under the NextGenerationEU pandemic recovery plan launched in 2021.

The European Commission also proposed to fund it through additional €20 billion in grants from the sale of EU Emission Trading System allowances (ETS).

Launched in 2005, the ETS system compels manufacturers, power companies and airlines to buy permits to cover each tonne of carbon dioxide they emit.

The chief executive of Italian gas grid operator Snam told Reuters last week the group would seek EU support to invest €2.5 billion to boost the capacity of domestic network.

Money coming from the RePowerEU could also be devoted to build the so-called SoutH2 Corridor, a link to bring hydrogen that would be produced in northern Africa to northern Europe, one source with knowledge of the matter said.

A delegation led by right-wing Meloni to Algeria last January signed agreements, including on increasing the transport of energy to Italy and building a new gas pipeline that will also allow the transport of hydrogen.

Italy boosts key energy ties with Algeria

Italy’s two-day state visit to Algiers resulted in energy giants Eni and Sonatrach signing two agreements Monday that aim to reduce emissions and improve the energy interconnection network linking the two countries.

Italy’s government plans to complete the talks with Brussels on Rome’s proposed use of the EU funds by the end of April, Rome’s statement said.