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Energy: dependence on oil of EU countries (including the UK)

A study by the Universities of Pisa and Ferrara published in the journal “Resources Policy”

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In the European ranking for oil dependence, headed by countries such as Lithuania, Greece, the Netherlands and Spain, Italy is eighth. The figure for 2019 emerges from an article by Giovanni Carnazza of the University of Pisa and Federica Cappelli of the University of Ferrara published in the journal “Resources Policy”.

The research looked at the 28 countries of the European Union (EU) (including the UK) over the period 1999-2019. A ranking was drawn up based on a very complex newly developed multidimensional index involving four aspects: energy dependence (how much of our energy comes from oil); economic dependence (how much of our real GDP depends on oil); international dependence (how much of our oil comes from imports); geopolitical dependence (the degree of diversification of our imports and the extent to which our trade relations are linked to politically stable countries)


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“Oil accounts for over one third of the energy created and used within the European Union, which highlights our heavy dependence on fossil fuels,” says Giovanni Carnazza, research fellow at the Department of Economics and Management of the University of Pisa. “As the outbreak of war between Ukraine and Russia taught, continued reliance on external energy resources makes each country extremely vulnerable to external shocks.”

As for 2019 Italy, it turns out that 35% of energy sources are derived from oil, 30% from natural gas and 10% from renewables. At a European level, averages are 41% for oil, 16% for natural gas and 9% for renewables. Looking at the other side of the coin, the wooden spoon for renewables goes to Ireland (4.3%), Luxembourg (4.3%) and the Netherlands (4.5%), while the most virtuous countries are Finland (27%), Latvia (26.4%) and Sweden (26.2%).

In general, the study highlighted three key critical issues in the EU: the difficulty in decoupling oil consumption from GDP growth and in achieving the environmental targets set by the European Green Deal; the countries’ different degree of dependence on oil; and finally the problem of international and geopolitical dependence on oil for energy security.

“Our work has shown the delay with which many EU countries are addressing the need to implement ecological transition, not only from an environmental but also from a social and economic point of view,” Carnazza concludes. “Just think of the negative repercussions in terms of households’ purchasing power caused by the inflationary pressure triggered by rising oil and gas prices. Creating a synthetic and multidimensional measure of oil dependence in cross-sectional (28 EU member countries) and historical (1999 to 2019) terms can be an important first step towards understanding the origins of this heavy dependence and how to overcome it”.


  • 8 September 2023

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