Se­cu­rity of gas sup­plies: sol­i­dar­ity as a le­gal obli­ga­tion

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

With dis­cus­sion on se­cu­rity of en­ergy sup­ply com­ing to the fore once again, a se­nior mem­ber of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment said that sol­i­dar­ity is not an empty slo­gan: it is a duty, now en­shrined in law.

“We can­not rely on good­will and vol­un­tary schemes if the sup­ply of gas to a mem­ber state from out­side is cut off. We need a bind­ing mech­a­nism to de­liver gas to ev­ery pro­tected con­sumer, be it a house­hold, hospi­tal or district heat­ing in­stal­la­tion, in ev­ery EU coun­try in need”, said Jerzy Buzek MEP, Chair­man of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment’s Com­mit­tee on In­dus­try, Re­search and En­ergy and Rap­por­teur on the Reg­u­la­tion on mea­sures to safe­guard the se­cu­rity of gas sup­ply.

The re­port, adopted to­day with a

vast ma­jor­ity by the com­mit­tee, is a cru­cial piece of leg­is­la­tion es­tab­lish­ing the En­ergy Union.

“It is a ma­jor step to­wards en­sur­ing en­ergy se­cu­rity for all of the EU and the En­ergy Com­mu­nity. More than half of the gas needed in Europe de­pends on one mo­nop­o­lis­tic sup­plier. This makes Europe vul­ner­a­ble, as we saw clearly in the gas crises of 2006, 2009 and 2014. What is more, al­most all gas flow­ing in Europe crosses at least one state bor­der. It is an in­ter­na­tional prob­lem that re­quires in­ter­na­tional so­lu­tions”, said Buzek.

The re­port es­tab­lishes en­hanced re­gional co­op­er­a­tion, among other things. Risk as­sess­ments, preven­tion plans and emer­gency plans in case of dis­rup­tions in gas sup­plies are to be pre­pared not by in­di­vid­ual mem­ber states, but jointly by na­tional au­thor­i­ties in seven EU re­gions spe­cially formed for this pur­pose.

The EP Rap­por­teur also pro­posed strength­en­ing the Euro­pean ap­proach by in­tro­duc­ing Emer­gency Sup­ply Cor­ri­dors. They shall help the mem­ber states, work­ing to­gether in re­gions, to de­ter­mine the main di­rec­tions and gas flow cor­ri­dors in Europe in or­der to en­sure, in case of a cri­sis, the sup­ply of gas in­side the re­gions and be­tween them.

A sol­i­dar­ity clause would be ac­ti­vated au­to­mat­i­cally. “When one of the EU coun­tries is af­fected by a very se­ri­ous cri­sis of gas sup­ply, its neigh­bours have an obli­ga­tion to sup­ply gas to that coun­try’s most sen­si­tive con­sumers - the so-called pro­tected cus­tomers”, Buzek con­tin­ued.

Un­til now, mem­ber states had some dis­cre­tion in defin­ing the groups of pro­tected con­sumers which made the sol­i­dar­ity mech­a­nism dif­fi­cult to ap­ply. To im­prove this, the EP’s po­si­tion har­monises and nar­rows this def­i­ni­tion to house­holds, health­care, emer­gency and se­cu­rity ser­vices as well as to district heat­ing in­stal­la­tions.

As a last point, Jerzy Buzek em­pha­sised: “Mem­ber states and the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion should be able to as­sess gas con­tracts which are of par­tic­u­lar im­por­tance to the EU’s en­ergy se­cu­rity. The Par­lia­ment is also giv­ing na­tional au­thor­i­ties and the Com­mis­sion stronger tools to en­sure that ev­ery­one in our com­mon en­ergy market in­deed plays by market rules.”

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