Energy Ministers discuss security of gas supply and regional cooperation; source: picture alliance/dpa Enlarge

© picture alliance/dpa

At today's meeting in Luxembourg, the EU's Energy Ministers discussed the revision of the Security of Gas Supply Regulation. The Commission is proposing to intensify regional cooperation on the security of gas supply. It is envisaging the establishment of regional groups, in which countries work together to develop Preventive Action and Emergency Plans. In the case that these plans are not sufficient to respond to supply crises, a solidarity mechanism is to be used.

State Secretary Rainer Baake commented on today's meeting of the Energy Minsters, saying that "in the interconnected European electricity and gas market, it is crucial for market players and Member States to work together at regional level, not least in order to ensure security of supply. The challenges linked to electricity are different to those linked to gas. This has to do with the fact that most of the gas that is consumed in Europe is imported from other countries. However, we need flexible structures for regional cooperation in both the electricity and the gas sector in order to successfully tackle the specific challenges that we are faced with. We need a well-functioning internal market. This is key for reducing risks and improving the conditions for developing market-based regional cooperation. As far as setting up a solidarity mechanism is concerned, the EU has to clearly define the framework that is to be used."

The Energy Ministers also expressed their view on the revision of the decision establishing an information exchange mechanism with regard to intergovernmental agreements between Member States and third countries in the field of energy. According to the current proposal, Member States would have to submit draft agreements which they want to sign with a third countries to the Commission. The Commission would then examine whether these agreements comply with EU law. The Energy Ministers want this provision to be limited to contracts on the supply of natural gas and infrastructure.

Another issue discussed by the Energy Minsters was how to design the electricity market in future and how to organise regional cooperation. The Commission has announced that it will publish a comprehensive legislative proposal on the internal electricity market in December 2016. The Dutch presidency has presented a number of approaches on this, which also cover the basic concerns that Germany has been expressing. Germany particularly agrees with the Dutch presidency's view that a special focus must be placed on ensuring that producers and final customer will be given more flexibility and that the internal electricity market will be strengthened. This is also key to making the internal electricity market 'fit' for the integration of renewable energy.

Prior to the meeting of the Council, nine countries (including Germany) and the Commission signed a political declaration on energy cooperation between the North Sea countries. This is to help realign and build on the existing energy cooperation between the North Sea countries.

State Secretary Rainer Baake said: "I am glad that the cooperation between the North Sea countries will be given a new boost. The incremental, pragmatic and project-oriented approach that was adopted will be very helpful in moving this cooperation forward. Now we need to develop concrete and feasible projects in the area of spatial planning, coordinating offshore grid connection, working together on funding offshore wind energy and developing joint standards."