EU countries to report about energy investment plans

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The European Parliament passed a draft regulation on 25 February allowing the European Commission to obtain more information about major energy projects planned in EU member states. The move was hailed as a step towards a more coordinated EU energy policy.

The regulation requires EU countries to notify the Commission every two years about investment projects concerning the building, modernisation and decommissioning of energy capacities.

The text covers projects related to oil, natural gas, electricity and biofuels, as well as carbon dioxide produced from these sources.

Under the draft plans, energy companies are obliged to report these investments and give details regarding capacities, location, timetable and the technologies used in the interests of security of supply, carbon capture systems or retrofitting mechanisms, as well as comments on delays in implementing the projects.

On the basis of the information provided, the Commission is expected to be in a better position to promote best practice and to establish greater transparency for market participants. To develop common views on these issues, the results of the analyses would be discussed with stakeholders and made available to the public, the text says. A review of the regulation is scheduled five years after its entry into force.

The regulation also contains provisions that sensitive information provided by the Commission would be protected. The information provided would be kept confidential, but the EU executive would be able to publish aggregated data, the adopted text says.

The author of the report, MEP Adina-Ioana Vãlean (Romania, ALDE), hailed the vote, saying that MEPs wanted to give the Commission an instrument to gather sound information on energy infrastructure investment.

"Citizens and companies across the EU need to know that their future energy supplies will be affordable, sustainable and secure. The data that the Commission will now be able to gather should lead to the smarter energy policies that will achieve those ends,” she stated.

MEP Marian-Jean Marinescu (Romania), a spokesman for the centre-right European People's Party (EPP), pointed out that "the publication of energy data submitted by member states should not lead to the disclosure of sensitive commercial information about an individual company".

Marinescu also pointed to another crucial issue, monitoring the impact of investments on the European energy market in third countries.

"The Council must take into account this aspect so that regulation would also apply to European companies that invest in energy infrastructure in third countries, which has an important influence on the Union in this particular field," he stated.

The European Union, which is strongly dependent on Russia for its oil and gas, has already borne the brunt of Moscow's 'pipeline politics', notably when the country cut gas deliveries to Ukraine (in 2006 and again in 2008) and switched off the flow to Belarus, leaving several European countries with brief supply shortages (EURACTIV 11/01/07). 

Russia has always favoured a divide-and-rule approach vis-à-vis EU countries, both on energy supply and concerning energy projects.

Commission officials have lamented the fact that EU member countries do not inform Brussels about their role in projects such as South Stream, the Gazprom-favoured gas pipeline designed to avoid Ukraine by running under the Black Sea to Bulgaria, with one branch going to Greece and Italy, and another one to Romania, Serbia, Hungary, Slovenia and Austria.

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