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European Commission - Press release

Energy security and interconnectivity in Bulgaria and the other countries of South East Europe - a priority for the European Commission

Brussels, 12 January 2015

The Vice-President responsible for Energy Union, Maros Šefčovič and Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete, met with Prime Minister of Bulgaria Boyko Borissov and Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Dontchev in Brussels on Monday 12 January. Key points of the discussions were the current energy challenges in Bulgaria, gas infrastructure development priorities for Central and South Eastern Europe and their potential impact for European Union security of energy supplies. In this context, Bulgaria confirmed its commitment to building an Energy Union aiming at affordable, secure, renewable and sustainable energy for all. The Energy Union that will reform and reorganise Europe's energy policy is one of the political priorities of the Juncker Commission.

There was agreement on the necessity to increase integration of the region and most importantly, provide real diversification of gas supplies to the region and notably Bulgaria. This requires rapid concrete actions and to revisit and reinforce cost-effective regional solutions based on regional cooperation and solidarity. In this context the creation of the High Level Working Group tasked with advancing the most important cross-border diversification projects in the region and agreed that the group should start its work without delay. The Vice-President repeated the Commission's willingness to assess how existing financial support mechanism (Ten-E, Connecting Europe Facility, European Fund for Strategic Investments) can potentially help to secure the financing and swift implementation of the projects.

Prime Minister Borissov introduced the idea to turning Bulgaria into a common gas distribution center for EU Member States in the region. Such a gas hub could supply Central and Western Europe as well as countries from the European Energy Community. Vice-President Šefčovičexpressed his strong support for the creation of gas hubs which can play an important role in developing regional gas markets. Pre-conditions for functioning gas hubs are proper infrastructure, transparency, and liquidity and non-discriminatory access to suppliers and customers. It was agreed that the first meeting of the high Level Group should take place in Sofia and should analyse the energy situation in the region and, amongst others, whether and how these conditions can be met by the creation of a gas hub in Bulgaria.

Both parties concluded that concrete actions are needed in the short term to properly address the security of supply challenge of the region and notably Bulgaria. It was agreed to continue the dialogue on the issues raised.

IP/15/3180

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