European Commission takes control of energy policies

0
85

Negotiators of the European Parliament and the Council agreed today on having Intergovernmental Agreements in the field of gas and oil assessed by the Commission before they are signed.

According to the new rules, Member States will have to notify the Commission their Intergovernmental Agreements in the field of gas and oil with non-EU countries before concluding them. The proposal for a review of the Intergovernmental Agreement Decision is an important part of the sustainable energy security package proposed by the Commission in February 2016. Its key objective is to increase transparency on the gas market, make sure Intergovernmental Agreements are in line with EU law and strengthen the EU’s resilience to gas supply disruptions. Securing an agreement today, in record time after the proposal was tabled by the Commission, is a major political achievement. Energy security is one of the cornerstones of the Energy Union strategy, a key political priority of this Juncker Commission.

Maroš Šefčovič, European Commission Vice-President for the Energy Union, said:

“One of the Energy Union’s main objectives is to enhance energy security, solidarity and trust. An important element in ensuring energy security is full compliance of agreements related to buying gas and oil from third countries with EU law. Practice has shown that renegotiating Intergovernmental Agreements, once they have been concluded, is very difficult – to the detriment of the Member State concerned and the European Union. Today’s Agreement ensures that rather than assessing whether international agreements comply with EU law after they are signed, Member States will now do so in advance. This is a big political and legislative achievement”.

Miguel Arias Cañete, Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, said:

“Today’s agreement, only nine months after the Commission adopted this proposal, is a major achievement for the EU’s energy security. This significant first deliverable of the Energy Union Strategy, achieved in record time, shows the Commission’s commitment to ensuring compliance with EU law and transparency on the energy agreements between EU and non-EU countries. The new rules, agreed by the negotiators of the European Parliament and the Council, will allow the Commission to guarantee that no energy deal jeopardises the security of supply in an EU country, or hampers the functioning of the EU’s energy market”.

Main agreements

  • Introduction of a mandatory ex-ante compatibility check by the Commission of Intergovernmental Agreements related to gas and oil.
  • Member States will have to notify their draft Intergovernmental Agreements related to gas and oil to the Commission before concluding them. Member States cannot sign these Intergovernmental Agreements until the Commission has issued its opinion. When concluding the proposed Intergovernmental Agreements, Member States will have to take utmost account of the Commission’s opinion.
  • Intergovernmental Agreements related to electricity will be covered by a mandatory ex-post assessment, but a review clause has been inserted to possibly include electricity-related IGAs in the mandatory ex-assessment in the future.

Following today’s political agreement (in ‘trilogue’, between negotiators of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission), the text will have to be formally approved by the European Parliament and the Council. Once endorsed by both co-legislators, the revised Intergovernmental Agreement Decision will be published in the Official Journal of the Union.

Current rules on Intergovernmental Agreements were agreed in 2012 and they require Member States to notify the Commission their energy agreements with non-EU countries only after they have been concluded (ex-post).

Under the 2012 rules, 124 Intergovernmental Agreements have been notified to the Commission. One-third of the agreements related to energy infrastructure or energy supply contained provisions that were not compliant with EU law. Moreover, it has proven very difficult to renegotiate or terminate Intergovernmental Agreements once they have been signed by the parties. In fact, no Intergovernmental Agreement has been successfully renegotiated as yet.