The draft legislation aims to refill Europe’s strategic gas reserves more quickly, so that households and businesses have enough gas for the next heating season.
Parliament and Council negotiators reached an agreement on Thursday on a new regulation setting mandatory minimum level of gas in storage facilities to 80% by 1 November 2022. Member states and operators should strive to reach 85%. The target will be 90% for subsequent years to protect Europeans from possible supply shocks.
During negotiations, MEPs successfully pushed for more ambition on refilling targets and trajectories. From 2023 onwards, member states will set up individual refilling trajectories with the Commission. MEPs obtained that the regulation highlights the need for EU countries to diversify gas supply sources and boost energy efficiency measures.
Member states without underground storage capacities will have to ensure that at least 15% of their average consumption in the last five years is stored in another member state. Alternatively, they will have to develop a burden-sharing mechanism providing for financial support to meet the filling targets.
The Commission will issue guidance on how to use a mechanism to jointly procure gas, to be activated voluntarily by two or more member states, by 1 August 2022.
Mandatory certification of gas storage capacities
Under the regulation, gas storage capacities will become critical infrastructure. All storage operators will have to undergo new mandatory certification to avoid risks of outside interference.
MEPs pushed for the certification phase to be as short as possible. Member states will have to publish the draft certification decisions by November 2022. Operators who fail to secure this certification will have to give up ownership or control of EU gas storage facilities. Moreover, operators will not be able to close a gas storage facility without authorisation from the national regulator.
“Extraordinary times demand extraordinary speed and efficiency. We delivered on both”, said MEP Jerzy Buzek (EPP, PL), who is leading the European Parliament’s negotiating team. “Since 2010, the Parliament has been advocating for joint EU gas purchasing. The EP managed to include a provision on such a mechanism for joint procurement of natural gas in the new legislation. I trust the Member States - supported by the European Commission - will make the most of this possibility to unite their purchasing power when procuring gas on the global energy market. The pandemics showed that we are stronger when united; let us build on this experience even further.”
“Co-legislators have risen to the challenge and have delivered an agreement aiming to ensure that European citizens will have enough gas next winter, and will be protected from those who seek to use energy supplies as a weapon”, said rapporteur and Industry, Research and Energy Committee Chair Cristian Buşoi (EPP, RO). “We will crack down on operators who endanger our security of supply thanks to a certification process that will ensure that critical storage infrastructure is not in the hands of operators who represent a risk”, Mr. Buşoi added.
A press conference with MEPs Jerzy Buzek and Cristian Buşoi will take place at 14.00 on Thursday in Parliament’s Anna Politkovskaya press room (PHS 00A50), and via interactio. Journalists wishing to ask questions remotely, please connect via Interactio by using this link.
The informal agreement will now have to be formally endorsed by Parliament and Council to come into force. The Industry, Research and Energy Committee will vote on the text in a forthcoming meeting.
The legislative proposal was adopted by the Commission on 23 March, in the context of the Russian aggression against Ukraine. Parliament voted on 5 April in favour of triggering a fast-track procedure and backed the proposal two days later. At the Versailles Summit, EU leaders requested measures to address the issue of energy independence.