BRUSSELS, July 24 (UPI) -- The European Union needs an ambitious set of policies in place to increase security related to its energy supplies, the European energy commissioner said.
European Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger outlined ways to build on an energy plan that envisions a 20 percent increase in renewable energy use, a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from a 1990 benchmark and a 20 percent increase in energy efficiency by 2020.
Oettinger said the new plan envisioned by European leaders would reduce natural gas imports by 30 percent.
"Our proposal is the basis to drive the EU towards increased security of supply, innovation and sustainability, all in an affordable way," he said in an address Wednesday from Brussels. "It is ambitious and at the same time it is realistic."
European leaders are trying to break Russia's grip on the energy sector. Russian gas satisfies about 20 percent of the European demand, though most of that runs through a Ukrainian pipeline system.
Conflict between Russia and Ukraine, as well as disputes over their respective contractual ties in the energy sector, puts European interests at risk.
Oettinger said in early July natural gas from shale could eventually meet about 10 percent of Europe's energy needs.