The European Parliament and Council have reached an informal agreement on new regulations which aim to prevent gas supply crises.
Under the rules, an EU country facing an emergency gas shortage will be able to alert another member state and trigger cross-border assistance.
The draft agreement establishes four “risk groups” of member states to serve as a basis for obligatory “risk associated co-operation” for establishment of preventive and emergency measures.
There will be three energy supply crisis levels that member states can declare by informing the European Commission and the authorities in their risk groups and directly connected member states: early warning, alert and emergency.
The solidarity mechanism will be activated when a member state indicates cross-border intervention is necessary to tackle a severe crisis. This can happen only if there is a security or health risk for the so-called “solidarity protected consumers”, for example, a household or a district heating installation.
Supplying gas to the member state will then become a priority for the helping member states but help from another country can only be activated as last resort.
The draft recognises the role of energy efficiency as a tool to prevent supply crises by reducing gas demand.
Miguel Arias Cañete, Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy 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 co-ordinated crisis prevention and handling of potential gas crises by combining standards set at EU level with regional co-operation and solidarity. This increases our effectiveness and reduces costs for EU consumers.”