EU regions and cities have underlined 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 during a meeting of the Commission for the Environment, Climate Change and Energy yesterday.

Addressing fellow political leaders, Mauro D’Attis (IT/EPP), Member of Roccafiorita Municipal Council (Messina) and rapporteur on common rules for the internal market in natural gas, said:

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.

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 CoR therefore believes it is necessary to protect EU 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. Moreover, members of the ENVE Commission were keen to reiterate that the new rules should be carefully thought through with a view to the long term, rather than being on an ad-hoc basis.

According to the rapporteur, “this approach would enable the necessary policy responses to be consistently reconciled with the need to comply with the legal constraints of EU law on the movement of capital and of international law.” 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.

Following yesterday’s adoption by ENVE, the opinion will be put to a final vote at the European Committee of the Regions’ Plenary Session in May.

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