New rules to secure gas supplies in Europe bring more solidarity

13 Sep 2017 11:33 AM

The Commission welcomes the strong support by the European Parliament to the new security of gas supply regulation. Its aim is to prevent potential gas supply crises and it applies the solidarity principle for the first time.

The new rules will put solidarity first when it comes to dealing with disruptions to gas supply. They ensure a regionally coordinated and common approach to security of supply measures among EU Member States. This places the EU in a better position to prepare for and manage gas shortages if a crisis occurs. The solidarity principle will apply. Member States will have to help their neighbours out in the event of a serious crisis so that European households do not stay in the cold. Securing energy supplies to European consumers is one of the cornerstones of the Energy Union, a key priority of the Juncker Commission.

European Commission Vice-President for the Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič yesterday said: "Energy security is one of the key elements of the Energy Union. In this context, solidarity, closer regional cooperation and greater transparency of gas contracts were at the heart of our strategy. Therefore, I welcome today's vote by the European Parliament. We have delivered on the promise to our citizens that they do not need to fear to be left in the cold in the future, while the industry kept on hold."

Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete yesterday said: "Today's vote by the European Parliament strengthens the energy security in Europe and increases solidarity and cooperation between Member States. With the new rules, we are better equipped to prevent and handle potential gas crises. This makes us more effective, secures our energy supply and reduces costs for consumers."

Main improvements

  • Introduction of a solidarity principle: in the event of a severe gas crisis, neighbouring Member States will help out to ensure gas supply to households and essential social services.
  • Closer regional cooperation: regional groups facilitate the joint assessment of common security of supply risks and the development and agreement on joint preventive and emergency measures. 
  • Greater transparency: 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).   

Next steps

Following endorsement by both co-legislators, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers of the EU, the revised Security of Gas Supply Regulation will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union and enters into force 20 days after publication. 

Background

After the gas crises of 2006 and 2009, the EU reinforced its security of gas supply notably by adopting the first security of gas supply regulation in 2010. This existing regulation already required Member States to prepare and share with each other plans with national measures for crisis prevention and mitigation, obliged companies to ensure gas supply to protected customers even in the event of supply disruption, and provided for the installation of bi-directional capacity (reverse flows).

The European Energy Security Strategy and the stress tests on the resilience of the European gas system have shown that many EU countries are still vulnerable to supply disruptions. Moreover, the geopolitical context and the EU's reliance on gas imports underlined that securing gas supply remains a priority. Therefore the Commission concluded that better coordination among Member States is the best way to tackle the remaining shortcomings in the current legislation. The new regulation constitutes a central part of the sustainable energy security package presented by the Commission in February 2016 (see IP/16/2094). Together with the recently adopted revised legislation on Intergovernmental Agreements (see IP/16/4311) the package plays a significant role in increasing transparency on the gas market and strengthening the EU's resilience to gas supply disruptions.

Gas covers around a quarter of the EU's energy demand. The EU's current annual gas demand of around 400 billion cubic metres (bcm) is projected to remain relatively stable in the coming years. Around 65% of the EU's gas is imported - its main suppliers are Russia, Norway and Algeria. 

More information

Security of gas supplies

Energy Union

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