Friday

16th Nov 2018

EU seeks oversight powers on energy security

  • New oversight powers target Russian supplier Gazprom, without naming it directly (Photo: gazprom.com)

The European Commission wants to vet all major new gas deals with non-EU suppliers under extra powers unveiled on Tuesday (16 February) to prevent the type of supply crises seen in 2009.

Under the proposal, member states would be obliged to share details of forthcoming accords with non-EU countries on issues such as prices, maximum daily volumes and conditions for suspending deliveries.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

EU officials would then issue “recommendations” that the member state would have to follow, or risk ending up in the EU court in Luxembourg.

The commission called for a similar regime on contracts between private companies, which are normally subject to commercial secrecy, if those contracts gave a non-EU supplier 40 percent of more of a single country’s market share.

It also said EU states should be obliged to share gas with their neighbours in the event of a supply crunch to cover essential services such as hospitals and schools, which would take priority over domestic industrial users.

Supply crunches

Introducing the measures, which must be approved by member states and by the European Parliament before they become law, EU energy commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said: “To prevent gas supplies' crises, national policies are not enough.”

Alluding to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine - an attack by the EU’s main gas supplier on its main transit state - he said: “With political tensions on our borders still on a knife edge, this is a sharp reminder that this problem is not just going to go away.”

He added that previous energy security upgrades still left the EU “vulnerable” to major disruptions.

He also noted that up to one third of member states’ 124 intergovernmental energy supply pacts currently fall foul of EU law.

The first gas crunch in recent times came when Russia cut the supply to Belarus, a minor transit route, in a commercial dispute in 2004.

It did it again via Ukraine in 2006, and again also via Ukraine in 2009. The 2009 crisis led to blackouts in Russia-dependent states such as Bulgaria at the height of winter.

But Russian gas kept flowing in the Cold War and its main supplier, Gazprom, has kept it flowing despite the Ukraine war, which began in 2014.

But the EU itself, back in 2014, proposed potential economic sanctions on Russia that would stop oil and gas imports in the event of a serious escalation of the Ukraine conflict.

Nord Stream controversy

Russia is also in talks to double the capacity of its Nord Stream pipeline to Germany, despite the Ukraine crisis, with construction of the new leg dubbed Nord Stream II to start in April.

Canete noted the Nord Stream II project had become “highly political” after eastern and southerly EU states accused Germany of breaking EU solidarity.

He said the commission is still assessing whether the project conforms with EU law on third-party pipeline access and on decoupling production and distribution assets.

He added that if Germany went ahead, the new deal would also be subject to the 40 percent or more oversight clause.

"If it goes over the threshold, all contracts with the supplier have to be notified," Canete said.

Stakeholder

Europe needs integrated energy solutions

Europe needs secure, affordable and sustainable energy for all - the integration of power generation, heating, cooling, buildings, transport and ICT is part of the solution.

Opinion

Sustainable energy must be citizen owned

Europe cannot afford to take the wind out of its energy transition. People and communities must be guaranteed the right to take energy production and energy savings into their own hands.

Feature

Missing signature gaffe for Azerbaijan gas pipeline

A joint declaration on the Southern Gas Corridor project, which should deliver Azerbaijani gas to Europe by 2020, will remain secret - because the Turkish energy minister left before signing.

News in Brief

  1. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  2. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May
  3. Denmark blocks Tanzania aid over homophobic crackdown
  4. Second UK cabinet minister resigns over Brexit deal
  5. UK Brexit secretary quits morning after deal agreed
  6. Romanian MPs call for national 'Magnitsky Act'
  7. Tusk: Brexit summit on Sunday 25 November
  8. Full text of Brexit withdrawal agreement published

Stakeholder

Nordic electricity market presented to global energy ministers

Energy ministers from the world's biggest economies, including the G20, were shown how co-operation works in the Nordic electricity market. This co-operation is unique by international standards and is held up as a model globally.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  2. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  3. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  4. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  5. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  6. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot
  7. How the 'EU's Bank' fails to raise the bar on accountability
  8. Knives out on all sides for draft Brexit deal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us