About one quarter of all the energy used in the EU is natural gas, and many EU countries import nearly all their supplies. Some of the Member States are also heavily reliant on a single source or a single transport route for the majority of their gas. Disruptions along this route caused by infrastructure failure or political disputes can endanger supplies. For instance, the gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine in 2009 disrupted supplies to some EU countries.
To help prevent potential supply disruptions and respond to them if they happen, EU legislation creates common standards and indicators to measure serious threats and define how much gas EU countries need to be able to supply to households and other vulnerable consumers.
In 2017 a new Security of Gas Supply Regulation was introduced, which:
- requires the European Network for Transmission System Operators for Gas (ENTSOG) to perform an EU-wide gas supply and infrastructure disruption simulation in order to provide a high level overview of the major supply risks for the EU
- requires EU countries to cooperate with each other in regional groups to assess common supply risks together (common Risk Assessments) and to develop and agree on joint preventive and emergency measures (to be reflected in their Preventive Action Plans and Emergency Plans)
- introduces the solidarity principle: EU countries must help each other to always guarantee gas supply to the most vulnerable consumers even in severe gas crisis situations
- improves transparency: natural gas companies must officially notify to their national authority their major long-term supply contracts that may be relevant to security of supply (if the contract exceeds 28 % of the annual gas consumption in the Member State)
- ensures that decisions on whether pipelines should have permanent bi-directional capacity (reverse flow) take into consideration the views of all EU countries that could potentially benefit. Transmission system operators must enable permanent bi-directional capacity on all cross-border interconnections between EU countries unless an exemption is granted .
In order to help EU countries design and agree on bilateral solidarity arrangements, the Commission, in accordance with the new regulation, has published a non-binding guidance document (Recommendation (EU) 2018/177) on the technical, legal and financial elements that should be included in such arrangements.
Each country must appoint a Competent Authority responsible for the implementation of the regulation.
Preventive Action Plans and Emergency Plans from Member States
EU countries must adopt and update every four years a preventive action plan with measures needed to remove or mitigate the gas supply risks identified in their national and common (regional) risk assessments.
They must also adopt an emergency plan with measures to remove or mitigate the impact of a gas supply disruption.
These plans must be public and include (as of 2019) regional chapters with the cross-border measures agreed by countries to address common risks. The Commission assesses the plans and recommends amendments if necessary.
EU-wide simulation of disruption scenarios
In November 2017 ENTSOG adopted an EU-wide simulation of disruption scenarios, in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2017/1938 on security of gas supply.
Gas Coordination Group
Resulting from the Security of Gas Supply Regulation (994/2010), the Gas Coordination Group meets regularly since 2012 to coordinate security of gas supply measures amongst EU countries. It also exchanges information on security of supply with supplier, consumer and transit countries.
Group members include national authorities, the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER), The European Network of Transmission System Operators for Gas (ENTSOG), the Energy Community and representatives of industry and consumer associations.