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Brussels, 9 January 2009
The Gas Coordination Group evaluates the current gas crisis and confirms measures to assist countries in need
In the afternoon session of the meeting of the Gas Coordination Group members, together with countries of the Energy Community in South-East Europe, discussed the impact of the current gas crisis, evaluating each country's situation with a particular view to identify further measures of assisting countries in need, in the spirit of solidarity. The group will meet again on 19 January in Brussels, and the monitoring will continue day by day until normal supplies are resumed.
The extent of the current gas crisis is unprecedented in European history. The Group reviewed the measures taken by industry and the individual countries, the countries most affected by this severe gas supply cut are Bulgaria and Slovakia in the EU and Serbia, Bosnia Herzegovina and FYROM in the Energy Community.
Other countries seriously affected are Greece, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Croatia can manage the consequences themselves for a certain period of time.
The third group, Germany, Italy and France, although seriously affected, have been able to take the necessary measures and have a manageable situation.
The correct implementation of the gas security of supply directive has shown how Member States though heavily struck are able to cope with the crisis. Some Member States, although severely affected, have been able to assist neighbours in difficulty showing real solidarity.
However, this crisis also demonstrated the need for a coordinated European response and emergency plan as already highlighted by the Commission in its Second Strategic Energy Review advocating an EU Energy Security and Solidarity Action Plan, as it was published in November 2008.
The Group identified the possible measures which could further help in relieving the countries most affected, in view of the discussion of the Energy Ministers on Monday 12 January 2009. FURTHER INFORMATION FOLLOWING IN THE FORM OF TWO MEMOS.
The Gas Coordination Group was created in 2006 according to Directive 2004/67 relating to measures that guarantee security of natural gas supply. Chaired by the European Commission, it is composed of gas competent representatives of Member States, the European organisations of the gas sector and consumers. The Group meets regularly (at least 4 times per year) to exchange information and to develop both short and long term concrete measures which reinforce the security of gas supply to the EU. The present meeting had been planned long in advance, having in mind a possible problem of supply given the recurrent dispute between Ukraine and Russia at the turn of the year.
Due to the exceptional circumstances, the Energy Community contracting parties were invited to the meeting of the Gas Coordination Group. The Energy Community links the EU to the Western Balkans in the field of electricity and gas, its members are Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo under UNSCR 1244.
Directive 2004/67 governs security of gas supplies in the EU. It has been implemented by Member States since 2006. It sets out a three step approach in case of supply crisis: the industry takes the necessary measures; if these are not adequate to mitigate the crisis, national measures are activated; if still not adequate and if the crisis reaches the major supply disruption indicator (20% of all imports are missing) the Community mechanism is activated: the Gas coordination Group is convened to discuss what further steps can be taken and to assist the Member States in difficulty. The Group can then propose further measures to the Council.
The recent Communication of the Commission, adopted on 13 November 2008 together with the Strategic Energy Review, points out that the current Community mechanism might not be timely and adequate to deal with a supply crisis that national measures cannot mitigate. In this Communication, the Commission proposes the revision of the directive and the elaboration of regional and EU emergency plans to be activated automatically in case of the occurrence of supply disruption of a certain importance.
The Energy Council will hold an extraordinary meeting on Monday 12 January to consider the results and recommendations of the meeting of the Gas Coordination Group of today.