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The extraordinary Energy (TTE) Council met this Monday in a critical moment caused by the current unprecedented interruption of gas supplies from Russia via Ukraine to the EU.
The Council evaluated the situation of gas supplies in relevant Member States and took stock of domestic solidarity measures already undertaken, which - despite the limited options available in the short run - have helped to mitigate the impact on European citizens and national economies.
Member States were encouraged to sustain and deepen solidarity measures until the supplies are restored. The Council welcomed the steps undertaken by the Presidency and the Commission with the aim to facilitate the dialogue between Russia and Ukraine in order immediately to restore gas deliveries and appreciated that the EU and its Member States coordinated their approach towards third parties.
The Council agreed on the urgent necessity to develop and strengthen medium- and long-term measures relating to transparency regarding physical gas flows, demand and storage volumes in both Member States and supply and transit countries, including by installing reliable measurement systems where appropriate. In this framework, the Council mentioned the contribution of long-term contracts to the reliability of all countries towards European final customers.
The Council invited the Commission to present a report on this issue in time for the March European Council. The European Council is looking into Regional or bilateral solidarity arrangements, including on a commercial basis, addressing disruption of supplies.
The Commission is also looking to speed up the revision of the Security of Gas Supply Directive 2004/67/EC by the end of 2009, notably with respect to the definition of the "major supply disruption" indicator and the related Community and national mitigating measures in crisis situations. Access to and investment in gas storage must be improved and strategic gas stocks could also be considered by Member States as well as other means to improve security including the capacity of each Member State to free up security margins.
In order to identify missing interconnections and accelerate the relevant work, the Commission will look to carry out a thorough assessment of network interconnection, identify gaps, and take action to speed up the revision of the TEN-E framework, with a view to considering the development of a comprehensive EU Energy Security and Infrastructure Instrument as suggested in the 2nd Strategic Energy Review.
Member States were urged by the Council to speed up the implementation of network planning provisions foreseen in the 3rd internal energy market package and inform the Commission of the planning and realization of their most urgent projects.
The contribution of diversified transport routes and sources to the energy security of the EU and its Member States, including by LNG terminals suitably connected to the internal market to be of use to all Member States, must be a major criterion for selecting projects eligible for Community co-financing and other instruments such as those managed by the EIB. In this context it is important that Europe will work to mobilize potential resources under the Community budget and other financing instruments to strengthen investment in vital energy infrastructure, and will also strive for urgent progress on the European Economic Recovery Plan as agreed by the European Council conclusions of December 2008.
The author is the head of the International Department at GSCB Law Firm.