Energy security

Energy security

Diverse, affordable, and reliable energy

EU legislation helps to prevent and respond to potential gas supply disruptions

Diversified supply routes increase security of energy

EU legislation to prepare for and manage electricity crisis situations

EU countries are required to maintain emergency stocks of oil which can be used in case of a disruption to supply.

EU rules to prevent and respond to accidents on offshore installations.

EU rules governing the granting of licenses for oil and gas exploration and production.

Security of energy supply is an integral part of the Energy Union strategy. Energy supplies are exposed to risks that include disruption from countries from which the EU import fuel, but also extreme weather, industrial hazards, cyberattacks, terrorism and hybrid threats. By working together to prevent and to manage potential crises, the EU and its member countries can make the European energy system more resilient. Solidarity and regional cooperation, as well as speaking with one voice internationally when dealing with supplier countries, are key to this.

At present, the EU imports 55% of all the energy it consumes, at a cost of an average of around €266 billion per year. Energy also makes up around 15% of total EU imports. Specifically, the EU imports:

  • 87% of its crude oil
  • 70% of its natural gas
  • 40% of its solid fossil fuels
  • 40% of enriched and manufactured nuclear fuels

The EU receivs supplies of energy from a variety of countries around the world. Major suppliers are Norway, Russia,  members the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) various other countries around the world supplying liquefied natural gas (LNG) and, in the future, countries in Central Asia. The EU works actively with these countries as well as with Member States to increasingly diversify its energy sources, and to prevent disruptions to supply. 

Security of gas supply

The primary guarantee to ensure security of gas supply is an efficiently organised Internal Gas Market with no undue physical or regulatory barriers so that gas can flow across borders at any time to where it is most needed. To help protect against significant gas disruptions, the EU substantially reinforced its security of gas supply framework with the adoption of the Security of Gas Supply Regulation in 2017. EU countries must analyse all relevant risks, prepare Preventive Action Plans and Emergency Plans to prevent and deal with crises and hereby cooperate at regional level to better pool resources. They must and help each other to always guarantee gas supply to the most vulnerable consumers even in severe gas crisis situations.

Diversification of gas supply sources and routes

A key part of ensuring secure and affordable supplies of energy to Europeans involves diversifying sources and supply routes. The EU works closely with supplier countries and countries along supply routes to prevent supply disruptions. At the same time, it aims at identifying and building new routes that decrease the dependence of EU countries on a single supplier of natural gas and other energy resources. As part of this effort, the EU promotes the development of the Southern Gas Corridor to diversify its supplies by bringing in gas from the Caspian countries, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, as well as access to a growing liquid global LNG market.

Security of electricity supply

The primary guarantee to ensure security of electricity supply is an efficiently organised Internal Electricity Market with no undue physical or regulatory barriers so that electricity can flow across borders at any time to where it is most needed. Moreover, The EU works closely with Member States, transmission system operators and other stakeholders to monitor and manage security of electricity supply and prevent possible electricity crises which may materialise due to major events. The Electricity Coordination Group is a forum for sharing information and organising effective remedies. The newly agreed Regulation on electricity risk preparedness as part of the 'Clean energy for all Europeans' package will enter into force in spring 2019 and will ensure that EU countries will analyse all relevant major risks, prepare risk preparedness plans to prevent and deal with crises and hereby cooperate at regional level to better pool resources.

EU oil stocks

EU countries are required to maintain emergency stocks of oil equal to at least 90 days of their average daily consumption or 61 days of consumption, whichever is higher, in case there is a disruption to oil supply under the Minimum Stocks of Crude Oil and/or Petroleum Products Directive.

Domestic oil and gas exploration and production activities

Offshore safety is a priority concern for the European Union when it comes to offshore oil and gas operations. These operations play an important role for helping preserving a secure supply of energy in Europe. Major accidents are likely to have devastating and irreversible consequences on the marine and coastal environment, as well as coastal economies, across borders. A common set of EU rules for offshore safety has been therefore developed to ensure the highest safety standards in EU offshore activities, as well as the application of best practices.

Moreover, without prejudice to national sovereignty over the oil and gas domestic resources, Member States must follow a set of common EU rules for licensing both onshore and offshore oil and gas operations.

Critical infrastructures and cybersecurity

The energy system is one of the most complex and critical assets for a modern society. Its resilience against major disruptions caused natural disasters, terrorist attacks and cyber-attacks depends on well-functioning networks, markets and operations but also on its infrastructures. While the protection of energy facilities against physical attacks remains a national competence, Directive 2008/114/EC obliges Member States to identify European critical energy infrastructures.

The Commission services are currently assessing this Directive with a view to ensuring the most effective protection of critical energy infrastructure in the EU. Moreover the energy sector is undergoing a very rapid change in order to increase the share of decentralized and variable renewable energy sources, which requires a continuously increasing degree of digitalisation. This in turn increases the exposure of the sector to possible damaging cyberattacks. To address this challenge, the Commission is working to design and promote specific solutions adapted to the particularities of the energy sector, notably real-time requirements, cascading effects and the combination of legacy systems with new technologies. The work is through close cooperation with the Member States and relevant stakeholders and includes to develop sector-specific guidance and a future rulebook (network code).