Sunday

22nd Oct 2017

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

Investigation

Commission still silent on Hungarian nuclear contract

The EU executive has still not explained why it accepted that a contract with Russia to extend the Paks plant could be awarded without a public tender, and why commissioner Oettinger travelled with a lobbyist working for the Hungarian government.

Macron puts trade policy on summit table

France's president wants a "political discussion" on EU trade policies at Thursday's summit, amid domestic concerns over Canada and South America deals. But his colleagues are likely to avoid a lengthy debate.

EU gives thumbs up to US data pact

Commission gives 'thumbs-up' to controversial Privacy Shield deal with US on data sharing after a year's operation - but notes room for improvement.

News in Brief

  1. Rajoy to trigger Article 155 on Saturday in Catalan crisis
  2. EU conducts unannounced inspection of German car firm
  3. Lithuania calls for new EU energy laws
  4. EU leaders aim for December for defence cooperation
  5. Juncker says hands tied on Russia pipeline
  6. Czechs set to elect billionaire Andrej Babis
  7. Italian regions hold referendums on more autonomy
  8. EU leaders refuse to mediate Catalonia conflict

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Jinping Proposes Stronger Global Security Governance at Interpol Assembly
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaEU Engagement Could Contribute to Lasting Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
  3. UNICEFViolence in Myanmar Driving 12,000 Rohingya Refugee Children Into Bangladesh Every Week
  4. European Jewish CongressBulgaria Applauded for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  5. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  6. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  8. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  9. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  10. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  11. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  12. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!

Latest News

  1. The mysterious German behind Orban's Russian deals
  2. Mogherini urged to do more on Russian propaganda
  3. Turkey funding cuts signal EU mood shift
  4. Posted workers top EU agenda This Week
  5. Leaders lobby to host EU agencies at summit's margins
  6. Legal tweak could extend EU control on Russia pipeline
  7. Ukraine language law does not harm minorities
  8. EU begins preparations for Brexit trade talks