In its efforts to make its natural gas supply independent of Russia, the European Union is counting on cooperation between Egypt and Israel, among other things.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was present in Cairo on Wednesday when Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson, Egyptian Oil Minister Tarek El-Molla and Israeli Energy Minister Karine Elharrar signed a memorandum of understanding.

It is planned that natural gas produced by Israel will be pumped to the Egyptian Mediterranean coast and liquefied in the plants there.

It will then be shipped to the EU.

Christian Meier

Political correspondent for the Middle East and Northeast Africa.

  • Follow I follow

The agreement is "a big step forward in Europe's energy supply," praised von der Leyen.

At the same time, she spoke of a "first step on the way to a Mediterranean-wide agreement".

Elharrar said in a "historic moment, little Israel has become a significant player in the global energy market."

According to an estimate by the Israeli TV channel 12, natural gas exports to the EU could bring the state almost 280 million euros a year.

There are large deposits of natural gas off the coast of Israel and neighboring countries.

So far, however, Israel has not exported any gas to Europe;

there are no such pipelines, nor does Israel have liquefaction facilities.

Egypt, which has such facilities, aspires to become the regional hub for natural gas.

The EU wants to reduce the Russian share of its gas supply, which was about 40 percent before the start of the Ukraine war, by two-thirds this year.

At a meeting with Elharrar in Israel on Monday evening, von der Leyen said she hoped deliveries could begin before winter.

At a press conference with Egyptian President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi on Wednesday in Cairo, she also emphasized that the "energies of the future" are renewable energies.

The EU and Egypt want to cooperate in this area.

The European-Egyptian-Israeli memorandum of understanding also referred to environmental concerns and stated that all parties involved wanted to work to reduce climate-damaging methane emissions.