The new rules ensure a regionally coordinated and common approach to security of supply measures among EU Member States. This will put the EU in a better position to prepare for and manage gas shortages if a crisis occurs. For the first time, 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 this Juncker Commission.
European Commission Vice-President for the Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič said: "We have made important progress in improving energy security, one of the Energy Union's main objectives. The new rules are built upon solidarity and cooperation among the Member States. While the national conditions and specificities of the Member States are an important building block, the EU-wide framework of regional groups makes coordinated actions possible. Thus, Europe becomes better equipped to avoid and cope with eventual crises."
Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete said: "With this agreement between the Parliament and the Council, we take another big step forward towards strengthening the EU's energy security. The new regulation paves the way for better coordinated crisis prevention and handling of potential gas crises by combining standards set at EU level with regional cooperation and solidarity. This increases our effectiveness and reduces costs for EU consumers."
- 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 of an 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).
Following the political agreement (a 'trilogue' negotiation between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission), the text will have to be formally approved by the European Parliament and the Council. Once endorsed by both co-legislators, the revised Security of Gas Supply Regulation will be published in the Official Journal of the Union and enters into force 20 days after publication.
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.