Developing the internal market in natural gas in the EU is an ongoing process which has involved three liberalisation packages over the past twenty years that have sought to bring about market integration, security of supply and benefits for consumers through the liberalisation of supply and free access to the infrastructure. New rules, taking into account the features of the market (linked with the development of the related infrastructure), should be carefully thought through with a view to the long term, rather than being on an ad-hoc basis

This Directive seeks to address the remaining possible obstacles to the completion of the internal market in natural gas with a specific emphasis on the non-application of Union market rules to pipelines to and from third countries. Despite the EU Energy Union’s aims to ensure secure, competitive and sustainable decarbonised energy, studies have shown that the EU is heavily reliant on the import of natural gas and that this is combined with the prospect of increased domestic demand in spite of a decrease in EU gas production. The opinion therefore underlines that it is the EU’s responsibility to address energy supply problems stemming from infrastructural initiatives that strengthen dominant positions in the natural gas market or which reduce the diversification of the third-country energy sources. Moreover, it is essential for the EU to safeguard its own imports in general, although it must aim to avoid situations of excessive dependence, abuse by suppliers and risk for local communities. The rapporteur calls on the EU to protect citizens against any risk to the security of supply and to ensure compliance with the EU’s existing legal framework so that business activities can continue to provide jobs locally. The opinion also emphasises the efforts that the CoR – in performing its role in this area – intends to make to find EU solutions to the problems faced in local and regional communities, including the environmental impact from undersea pipelines.

Adoption timetable:

  • 1st First discussion in ENVE on 8 February 2018
  • 1st discussion and adoption in ENVE on 28-29 June 2018
  • Final adoption in Plenary session of October 2018

Reliably supplied cities, villages, regions - this is what our Energy Union is about. We want it to be based on values and principles, not on exceptions. This is also the main aim of the Gas Directive revision, as proposed by the European Commission and approved by the European Parliament. All the pipelines from third countries have to fully comply, on the entire EU territory, including territorial waters and exclusive economic zones of the Member States, with existing EU rules, primarily the Third Energy Package. Such a legal clarity will ensure real competition, which is at the heart of a well-functioning gas market that should supply our regions, businesses and citizens with secure and affordable energy in a non-discriminatory way. I hope the Council will be ready soon to conclude inter-institutional negotiations on this important legislation.

Jerzy Buzek

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