The True Price of Unhooking Europe From Putin’s Gas

A quiet confidence is emerging amid the gloom of Europe’s energy crisis. Natural gas prices are falling as storage tanks fill up. Demand is being dialed down, helped by weather. Getting through winter without relying on Vladimir Putin’s gas is looking achievable.

The optimism is such that even after the euro area’s latest painful inflation figures, economists are imagining a softer downturn ahead. Bloomberg Economics last week floated the possibility that even a shallow recession might be averted if energy costs kept falling and luck stayed on policy makers’ side.

But confidence mustn’t turn into complacency.

The huge cost and effort in preparing for winter show the extent to which Europe is still paying the price for its dependence on Russian gas, which once accounted for 40% of the European Union’s supplies; the number is now below 20%.