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

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ROME, Feb 6 (Reuters) – Italy intends to use funds coming from the European Union under the so-called REPowerEUplan 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 with relevant ministers and the CEOs of energy groups Eni ENI.MI, Enel ENEI.MI, Snam SRG.MI and Terna TRN.MI – mentioned the need to cooperate with Africa on energy supplies.

With total funds close to 300 billion euros ($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 euros 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 euros 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 euros 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.

Italy’s right-wing 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.

($1 = 0.9335 euros)

(Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte and Francesca Landini; writing by Francesca Landini, editing by Alvise Armellini and Aurora Ellis)

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