Today the European Parliament backed a deal reached with the EU Council to improve the existing Natural Gas Directive. Socialists and Democrats welcome the new common rules for the internal market because it will bring more transparency and security to the supply.
This is part of the EU’s efforts to create an Energy Union that will ensure energy supply at an affordable price for all citizens and regions in the EU. The EU’s gas demand is around 480 billion cubic metres (bcm), but the EU can only produce less than half of this gas, so the rest is imported from third countries. Supply security is crucial for the EU’s energy security and for the competitiveness of its industry, and this requires diversification and legal certainty for investments on pipelines.
Even though fossil fuels will be gradually phased out of the European Union, the reality is that natural gas currently represents around a quarter of the EU’s overall energy consumption and its supply must be guaranteed.
Dan Nica MEP, who is the S&D negotiator and the S&D spokesperson on energy, said:
“Our goal is to make the internal gas market work, which means allowing for gas to flow freely between member states so that all Europeans have access to gas at a fair price. Gas is transported mainly through pipelines, so the interconnection of gas national networks must be guaranteed, as well as non-discriminatory access to these networks.
“The deal reached with the Council is a positive step to bring third country pipelines in line with EU competition rules. The new legislation meets various needs: extension of the rules on the internal gas market to gas pipelines with a third country, within territorial limits; the possibility for member states to grant derogations (up to 20 years and renewable) for existing pipelines; confirmation of the validity of technical agreements concerning the operation of gas pipelines concluded between transmission system operators, provided that they comply with EU law.
“New projects such as NorthStream 2 will have to apply competition rules (such as on ownership unbundling) and exceptions will only be possible under strict procedures. Provisions and agreements between member states and third countries will have to comply with the EU law, and will need to contribute to the creation of a truly integrated internal gas market.”