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An EU country facing an emergency gas shortage could call on other member states to supply it with gas via “supply corridors” that would link EU countries into seven transnational regions, under a draft law enshrining a “regional solidarity mechanism”, as amended and approved by the Energy Committee on Thursday. The committee also approved a separate draft law that would require member states to notify the EU Commission when they negotiate energy supply deals with third parties.

European solidarity


The legislative resolution on solidarity measures to ensure gas supplies, drafted by Jerzy Buzek (EPP, PL), was approved by 55 votes to 4, with 2 abstentions. The new draft rules would entitle EU countries to call on other member states to supply them with gas in emergency cases where the security and health of their “protected customers” is at risk and the shortage cannot be made up using “the emergency plans of their region.”


To this end, MEPs backed plans to create seven “cooperation regions”, connected by EU gas “supply corridors”, in order to help member states to mitigate the effects of any supply disruption.


MEPs also amended the draft proposal to ensure that supplying gas supply to households and essential services in a member state that has called for solidarity measures (i.e. emergency supplies) would take priority over supplying it to any other category of consumers in the EU country that is able to help the member state in need. To this end, they call for the definition of such protected customers to be harmonised across the Union.


MEPs stressed that the “solidarity mechanism” is a last resort, and should include appropriate compensation to mitigate the consequences for any “market parties” involved.

 

Notifying contracts

 

Details of energy supply contracts longer than one year, including the gas price, should be communicated to the relevant authorities and the European Commission, in order to provide an overview of the EU internal energy market and ensure its rules are respected, say MEPs. They add that if the Commission “finds the terms of a gas supply contract” could harm the measures ensuring the uninterrupted gas flow in the Union, “it may consider launching further procedures, inter alia under Union competition law”

 

Monitoring national supply contracts with third parties


Member States should involve the Commission in preparing and negotiating any supply contract for “the purchase, trade, sale, transit, storage or supply of energy in or to at least one member state”, including “the construction or operation of energy infrastructure” connected to at least one member state, say MEPs in a separate legislative resolution, drafted by Zdzisław Krasnodebski (ECR, PL) and also approved on Thursday.


Without in any way restricting member states’ freedom to negotiate, the EU Commission should have the role of advising national governments on how to ensure that a deal “complies with Union law and respects Energy Union objectives”, say MEPs.


Next steps


This committee also approved a mandate for MEPs to start talks with the Council to agree on common legislative texts on solidarity measures and the monitoring of national contracts, respectively

Glossary 
  • Emergency Supply Corridors = EU gas supply routes identified to help member states to better mitigate the effects of potential supply and/or infrastructure disruption.  
  • Protected customer = a household, an essential social service or a district heating installation - to the extent that it delivers heating to household customers and essential social services and is not able to switch to another fuel - which is connected to a gas distribution network. 
  • Essential social services = a healthcare, emergency or security service.