15 EU and Energy Community countries in the Central Eastern Europe and South East European region have agreed to work together to accelerate the building of missing gas infrastructure links and to tackle the remaining technical and regulatory issues which hamper security of supply and the development of a fully integrated and competitive energy market in the region. The agreement, contained in a Memorandum of Understanding signed in Dubrovnik today, will boost security of energy supply and lead to the creation of a connected and competitive energy market in the region. Its ultimate aim is for each country in the region to have at least three different sources of gas.
The European Commission Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič said: "This region is very important for Europe, in particular when we look at security of energy supply. The improvement of infrastructure through realistic and feasible projects is crucial to diversify energy resources and strenghten the region's resilience to supply shocks. Cooperation among the countries of the region is key in this regard. I myself and the entire Commission support this process, notably in the framework of the European Energy Union Strategy."
EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete said: "Regional cooperation is a cornerstone of our work on closer integration of energy markets. Therefore effective cooperation between the countries in Central Eastern and South-East Europe is key to ensuring secure energy supplies and affordable prices for consumers in the region. Whilst every country has to face its specific energy issues, addressing them together can offer cheaper and more effective solutions."
The work will take place under the Commission’s Central Eastern and South-Eastern European Gas Connectivity Group established in February 2015. A number of infrastructure projects, such as the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), LNG terminal in Croatia and evacuation system, system reinforcement in Bulgaria and Romania, interconnectors between Greece and Bulgaria and between Serbia and Bulgaria have been identified as top priority in the action plan annexed to the Memorandum.
The move comes after the Commission’s 2014 gas ‘stress tests’ found that most countries in Central and South-Eastern Europe do not have access to a diversified gas supply due to missing infrastructure links or long-term supply contracts to a single supplier. Other problems in the region include a lack of competition and the inefficient use of interconnections.
In general, the infrastructure projects should be financed by market participants, but the involvement of the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) will be considered by the CESEC countries.
The Memorandum of Understanding and its action plan were signed by EU Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič and EU Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete and by the Energy Ministers and their representatives from Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Albania, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Ukraine (Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republic of Moldova will sign at a later stage). The signing took place in the context of the CESEC High Level Group, set up in February 2015 to boost natural gas diversification and market integration in the region.