The Council of the EU agreed on a proposal to establish an information exchange mechanism concerning intergovernmental agreements (IGAs) and non-binding instruments between Member States and third countries in the field of energy. The proposed decision aims to enhance the transparency and consistency of the EU’s external energy relations and to strengthen its negotiating stance vis-à-vis third countries. It will also contribute to the proper functioning of the internal energy market.
On Monday, the proposal for a decision establishing an information exchange mechanism with regard to intergovernmental agreements (IGA) and non-binding instruments between member states and third countries in the field of energy were agreed by the Council of the EU in Luxembourg.
“This proposal is a major step that will enhance the transparency and consistency of the EU’s external energy relations. The aim is to correct shortcomings in the current information exchange mechanism and bring us closer towards the Energy Union,” said Henk Kamp, Dutch Minister for Economic Affairs and chair of the meeting, “This will further enhance the proper functioning of the internal energy market and the security of energy supply in the European Union.”
The proposed decision, along with the proposal for a regulation on the security of gas supply, will facilitate the proper functioning of the internal energy market, as well as the security of energy supply in the Union – two of the main goals of the EU Energy Union Strategy.
Information exchange mechanism for intergovernmental agreements
The aim of the proposal is to correct shortcomings of the current information exchange mechanism identified by the Commission, as so to enhance the consistency and transparency of EU’s external energy relations and strengthening EU’s negotiation stance vis-à-vis third countries.
The Commission proposed to examine the international agreements in the field of energy before they were signed by member states. It argued that if certain provisions of an intergovernmental agreement (‘IGA’) are found to be incompatible with Union law (such as the Third Energy Package, competition law, public procurement rules), it is very difficult or even impossible for a Member tate to renegotiate the IGA with a third country.
However, a number of Member States differed on this measure and the Council reached a different agreement.
Member States will keep the Commission informed both before the start and regularly during the negotiations of all IGAs. However, while assessments of gas-related IGAs will be conducted by the European Commission before they are signed by Member States, other non-gas related IGAs will be assessed by the Commission only upon Member States request. Furthermore, all non-gas related IGAs shall be notified to the Commission “upon ratification.” This will not be the case non-binding instruments.
The security of gas supply
The Council discussed the proposal for a revised regulation concerning measures to safeguard the security of gas supply.
The debate focused on the enhanced regional cooperation and coordination, new solidarity principle which will have a mandatory application in extreme crisis scenarios and transparency requirements, in particular with regard to commercial long term gas contracts.
By improving cooperation between Member States and by building on the achievements of the internal energy market, it aims to minimise the impact of a potential gas disruption. Its purpose is also to increase trust and solidarity at the regional and EU level.