The European Union is moving forward with the gas strategy. With winter getting closer and with Russia having already begun to reduce supplies, the Energy Ministers of the Twenty-Seven have given the definitive green light to the mechanism developed to try to protect the old continent from unpleasant surprises in times of great uncertainty. Approved the regulation requiring the underground storage of gas on the territory of the Member States for at least 80% of their capacity before this year’s winter and 90% before the following winter periods. Overall, the EU will collectively attempt to fill 85% of the total underground gas storage capacity in the EU in 2022.
These binding targets will remain in effect until December 31, 2025. There are nine member states that have no storage capacity. For Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta and Slovenia, the regulation provides for the activity of storing 15% of their annual internal gas consumption in stocks located in other Member States and thus having access to gas reserves. gas stored in other Member States. In this way, the aim is to find a fair compromise between solidarity and contributing to the financial burden associated with filling the EU’s storage capacities.
One of the key elements of the European strategy, the regulation also provides for the mandatory certification of all operators of underground gas storage sites by the authorities of the Member States concerned. An element considered “essential” to avoid the “potential risks of external influence on critical storage infrastructures”, which could jeopardize the security of the EU’s energy supply and other essential security interests.
We will not have to wait any longer, because this vote in the Council reflects the inter-institutional agreement reached with Parliament. The Eurochamber has already adopted the regulation on 23 June, and the go-ahead from the ministers closes the process. The new rules will enter into force the day after its publication in the Official Journal, which is expected “shortly”.
This is a “highly operational regulation”, underlines Agnès Pannier-Runacher, Minister for Energy Transition of France, a country with the rotating presidency of the EU Council until 30 June. “In the current international context, this regulation allows us to strengthen Europe’s energy resilience” in the face of Russian threats to use energy as a weapon of blackmail.