EU’s energy import dependency decreased in 2020


In 2020, the EU imported 57.5 % of the energy it consumed, a decrease of almost 3 percentage points (pp) compared with 2019, when this indicator hit an all-time high of 60.5 %. The decrease was the result of changes in the main components of this indicator: net imports dropped by -12.6 % and gross available energy changed by -8.1 %, the latter was affected mainly by reductions in primary production. These changes were linked to the curtailed demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and the subsequent economic crisis.

The most important fuel sources in the EU energy mix in 2020, oil and petroleum products (34.5 % of total fuel) and natural gas (23.7 % of total fuel) are mainly imported.

The import dependency rate for crude oil, an essential commodity for the petrochemical industry and the production of fuels used in transport, was the highest of all fuels and decreased only slightly from 96.8 % in 2019 to 96.2 % in 2020, interrupting an upward trend which started in 2015 (95.2 %). The rate registered in 2019 was the highest since 1990 when crude oil import dependency was 93.2 %. The relative steadiness in dependency in 2020 was the result of a decrease in net imports (-13.0 %) and a similar decrease in gross available energy (-12.5 %).

Natural gas, a major fuel for electricity production and heating in the EU, had the second-highest import dependency rate of 83.6 % in 2020, a 6pp drop from 89.6 % in 2019, the year with the highest import share since 1990.

The change in 2020 was the result of a drop in net imports (-9.0 %) and a smaller decrease in gross available energy (-2.4 %).

For solid fossil fuels, counting for a small and decreasing share of the EU energy mix (around 10 % in 2020), the import dependency rate was 35.8 % (-7.4pp compared with 2019).

Looking back since 1990, the overall energy dependency rate registered two other peaks, one in 2008 when dependency reached 58.4 % and 2006 (58.3 %).

Detailed information by product and by country is easily available in the Eurostat energy dashboard where you can also choose other interactive charts.

This article is being published on the occasion of the EU Industry Days. This is a flagship annual event, highlighting industrial frontrunners and ongoing industrial policy discussions whilst improving the knowledge base of European industry.

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