Energy

Secure gas supplies

About one quarter of all the energy used in the EU is natural gas and many EU countries import nearly all of their supplies. Some EU countries are also heavily reliant on a single source or a single transport route for the majority of their gas.

Preventing gas supply disruptions

Disruptions along single transport routes can threaten the uninterrupted gas supply to some European countries. Gas supply disruptions may result from technical or human failures, natural disasters, cyber-attacks and other emerging risks, as well as from geopolitical disputes.

For example in 2009, a gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine affected gas supplies to some EU countries and in 2017 an explosion at a major European gas hub in Baumgarten in Austria caused neighbouring countries to issue an early warning or declare a state of energy emergency.

To help prevent potential supply disruptions and respond to them if they happen, the EU has agreed on common standards and indicators to assess serious threats and prepare against their impacts. The measures in place allow EU countries to define how much gas is needed to guarantee the supply to households and essential services at all times, also in extreme gas disruption situations.

The EU framework for security of gas supply

Regulation (EU) 2017/1938 on measures to safeguard the security of gas supply, which repealed Regulation (EU) 994/2010, is the reference legal text . It lays down the framework for EU emergency preparedness and resilience to gas disruptions. Its provisions are based on improved information exchange, regional cooperation and solidarity, and cover

  • cooperation between EU countries in regional groups to assess common supply risks (Common Risk Assessments) and to develop joint preventive and emergency measures
  • the notification of major long-term supply contracts that may be relevant to security of supply by natural gas companies to their national authorities
  • the facilitation of permanent bi-directional capacity on all cross-border interconnections between EU countries by transmission service operators, unless an exemption is granted
  • the preparation of EU-wide simulations of gas supply and infrastructure disruption, carried out by European Network for Transmission System Operators for Gas (ENTSOG),  provides a high level overview of the major supply for the EU

Solidarity arrangements

A key objective of the regulation is to put in place a solidarity mechanism that will come into effect only in the event of an extreme gas crisis. It will help ensure that the most vulnerable consumers continue to have access to gas, even in challenging conditions. 

EU countries are required to put in place the necessary technical, legal and financial arrangements to make the provision of solidarity gas possible in practice. As part of these arrangements, EU countries must reach bilateral agreements with their neighbours and agree on the steps to be taken should solidarity gas be needed.

The solidarity mechanism is a landmark step in developing the EU’s resilience to gas supply disruptions and it helps realise the solidarity principle that underpins EU energy policy more widely. Similar cooperation and mutual assistance arrangements are foreseen in the electricity sector by the Regulation on risk-preparedness (EU) 2019/941.

To facilitate the task of the EU countries, the Commission issued a guidance document on the technical, legal and financial elements that should be included in arrangements.

The first bilateral solidarity agreement was signed between Germany and Denmark on 14 December 2020.

Preventive action plans and emergency plans 

The preventive action plans and emergency plans prepared by EU countries are important tools to guarantee the security of gas supply. Preventive action plans include measures needed to remove or mitigate the gas supply risks identified in their national and common risk assessments. Emergency plans cover measures to remove or mitigate the impact of a gas supply disruption. These plans form playbooks for EU countries to follow to avoid gas supply disruptions, as well as to guide an effective response in the event of an emergency.

The plans follow a common structure and contain the same key elements, as foreseen in Regulation 2017/1938, which  makes it easier to compare  the plans of different EU countries. As per the regulation, the preventive and emergency plans must be updated every four years and include regional chapters reflecting common risks. You may consult all final plans and Commission opinions

Gas Coordination Group

The Gas Coordination Group is a standing advisory group with the primary task of coordinating security of supply measures, especially during crises. The group assists the Commission on monitoring the adequacy and appropriateness of measures to be taken under Regulation 2017/1938, as well as serving as a platform for the exchange of information on security of gas supply between key stakeholders. The group meets regularly to discuss these matters.

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.

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