Commission strikes deal on new rules to secure gas supplies in Europe
Following intense negotiations concluded last night, the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU and negotiators from the European Parliament struck a deal on new rules to secure gas supplies in Europe, according to EUnews and Euractiv.
Under the new cooperation rules informally agreed by Parliament and Council negotiators, an EU country facing an emergency gas shortage will be able to alert another member state of the impending supply crisis and trigger cross-border assistance to remedy it. In essence, the solidarity principle is for neighbouring member states to help out to ensure gas supply to households and essential social services in the event of a severe gas crisis.
On transparency, the natural gas companies will have to notify long-term contracts that are relevant for security of supply – 28% of the annual gas consumption in the Member State.
The informal agreement needs to be formally endorsed by the Council and the Parliament before it becomes law.
The draft agreement establishes four “risk groups” of member states to serve as a basis for obligatory “risk associated cooperation”, for joint risk assessment and joint establishment of preventive and emergency measures. These replace the seven regional cooperation groups listed in the initial legislative proposal.
There will be three energy supply crisis levels that member states can declare by informing the European Commission and the competent authorities in their risk groups and in directly connected member states: early warning, alert, and emergency.
The draft compromise recognizes the role of energy efficiency as a tool to prevent supply crises by reducing gas demand.
“This is the second piece of legislation that shapes the Energy Union, and a crucial one. It will make us more secure and resilient to external disruptions and to the abuse of energy supply as a political weapon. It gives EU member states the ability to help each other in times of an emergency but also, more importantly, enables them to act jointly to prevent any supply crises,” rapporteur Jerzy Buzek (EPP, PL), said.
“The main objective of the Parliament was to ensure that our citizens are never left without gas. This is reflected in the compromise which we have just reached. Through the solidarity mechanism, member states are obliged to help each other when there is a danger to the supply of gas to the most sensitive consumers – private households, hospitals, social services.”
“With this agreement between the Parliament and the Council, we take another big step forward towards strengthening the EU’s energy security. The new regulation paves the way for better coordinated crisis prevention and handling of potential gas crises by combining standards set at EU level with regional cooperation and solidarity. This increases our effectiveness and reduces costs for EU consumers,” Cañete said.