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International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Wednesday, 20.06.2018, 14:26

European energy solidarity principle: new initiative

Eugene Eteris, RSU/BC, Riga, 13.09.2017.Print version
Gas covers around a quarter of the EU's energy demand and the block’s present annual gas demand is about 400 billion cubic meters (bcm). It is predicted to remain relatively stable in the coming years. However, around 65% of the EU's gas is imported: main suppliers are Russia, Norway and Algeria. Therefore, securing energy supplies should be in the agenda for the energy solidarity principle among the member states.

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 regulation – still in force – already required EU member states while preparing national energy measures, to share with each other plans and strategies for crisis prevention and mitigation. It obliged companies to ensure protection of gas supply flows to customers even in the event of supply disruption, while providing for the installation of bi-directional capacity, so-called reverse flows. 

Gas supply disruption

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 the EU states was the best way to tackle the remaining shortcomings in the current legislation.

Thus 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 draft regulation would play a significant role in increasing transparency on the gas market and strengthening the EU's resilience to gas supply disruptions.

Hence, the European Parliament adopted new draft regulation for security of gas supply prepared by the Commission, which is aimed, first of all at preventing potential gas supply crises. It also applies, for the first time, the solidarity principle to EU energy issues. In order to make the new draft regulation into law, the Council should agree on the Parliament’s move.   

Securing energy supplies

The new EU rules will put solidarity first when it comes to dealing with disruptions of gas supply. They would ensure a regionally coordinated common approach to security of supply measures among the EU member states. This places the EU in a better position to prepare for and manage gas shortages in critical situations.

The “energy solidarity principle” means that the EU member states would 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 the present Commission’s term.

European Commission Vice-President for the Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič underlined that solidarity in the EU’s energy security has become a key element in closer regional cooperation and greater transparency of gas contracts. Therefore, the vote in the European Parliament has become a sign of delivering to the EU’s promise to citizens “that they do not need to fear to be left in the cold in the future, while the industry kept on hold”, he added.

Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete added that the Parliament’s vote strengthened the energy security in Europe and increased solidarity and cooperation among the member states. Hence, the new rules would both prevent and handle potential gas crises, making the member states’ policies more effective in securing energy supply and reducing costs for consumers.

Reference: Commission press release (Brussels, 12 September 2017) at:

Among main improvements envisaged in the new regulation are:

- Introduction of a solidarity principle: in the event of a severe gas crisis, neighbouring EU 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 and 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 a member state).

Following endorsement by both co-legislators, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers of the EU, the revised Security of Gas Supply Regulation will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union and enters into force 20 days after publication.

More information in: = Security of gas supplies; and = Energy Union


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