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The European Commission is proposing an obligation to store natural gas at a minimum of 80% for next winter

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According to EC data, leaders will continue discussions on these options at this week’s European Council.

The Commission has presented a legislative proposal introducing the obligation to store natural gas at a minimum of 80% for the following winter and 90% for the following years. In order to address the concerns about high energy prices, the Commission has also adopted a Communication setting out what options are available for market intervention at European and national level and assessing the advantages and disadvantages of each option. .

EU partnerships with third countries for the collective purchase of natural gas and hydrogen can improve resilience and reduce prices. The Commission is ready to set up a Task Force on Joint Gas Procurement at EU level. Through centralized demand-side action, the task force would facilitate and strengthen the EU’s international reach in relation to gas suppliers to help secure reasonably priced imports before next winter.

The task force would be supported by representatives of the Member States in a steering committee. A joint negotiating team led by the Commission would hold talks with natural gas suppliers and also prepare the ground for future energy partnerships with major energy suppliers, analyzing sources other than LNG and gas. The work of this team would be inspired by the experience gained in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, when action at EU level was essential to ensure a sufficient supply of vaccines for all.

A legislative proposal to ensure gas storage for the winter season

Following the Versailles Summit, the Commission has redoubled its efforts to be able to present a legislative proposal requiring Member States to ensure that their underground gas storage infrastructure is at least 80% to 1 percent full. November 2022 and 90% in the coming years, with intermediate targets to be achieved in February and October. Storage operators should report filling levels to national authorities. Member States should monitor monthly filling levels and report to the Commission.

Gas storage facilities are critical infrastructure to ensure security of supply. A mandatory new certification of all storage system operators will avoid the potential risks arising from external influence on critical storage infrastructure, which means that non-certified operators will have to relinquish ownership or control of gas storage facilities in EU. In addition, gas storage facilities intending to close down operations would be required to obtain a permit from the national regulatory authority. In order to stimulate the refueling of EU gas storage facilities, the Commission is proposing a 100% reduction in capacity-based transport tariffs at the entry and exit points of storage facilities.

Emergency measures on energy prices and gas storage

Since last summer, the Commission has taken steps to mitigate the impact of high energy prices on households and businesses. Two weeks ago, President von der Leyen pledged to present concrete, short-term exceptional options by the end of the month to limit the contagion effect of natural gas prices on the electricity market. The Commission has made its analysis known in order to contribute to this week’s European Council meeting and today published a communication detailing these options.

Member States have presented several options for emergency measures to limit the impact of high electricity prices. However, all available options are costly and inconvenient.

As mentioned in the Communication, there is no single obvious answer to the approach to high electricity prices, given the different situations in the Member States in terms of energy mix, market organization and interconnection levels. The Commission presents the advantages and disadvantages of the different approaches, which can be further analyzed by European leaders, and is ready to deepen its analysis as needed. Many of the options described address the symptoms of the problem, but it is important to address the root causes of current high electricity prices through collective action at European level in the gas market.

The Commission will present the REPowerEU plan in detail and assess options for optimizing the organization of the electricity market in May; it is also ready to propose an EU energy saving plan. At the same time, the Commission intends to provide guidance to Member States on how best to use country-specific exemptions under the Energy Taxation Directive.

“World and European energy markets are going through a turbulent period, especially since the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Europe needs to take swift action to secure its energy supply next winter and to alleviate the pressure on citizens and businesses due to high energy bills. Today’s proposals are another step forward in our intense work in this area, “said Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson.

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