EU nations agree to let European Commission vet gas, oil deals

The European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete. [Council]

EU member states agreed yesterday (7 December) to allow the European Commission to vet their oil and gas deals with third countries like Russia to guard against anti-competitive practices and supply disruptions.

Overcoming resistance from member states wary of ceding sovereignty, the EU executive welcomed the deal with the bloc’s 28 nations and the European Parliament as a boost in its drive for a single EU energy market and to curb reliance on Russian gas.

EU countries near compromise on countering Russian gas supply risks

EU nations are edging toward a compromise on a proposal to guard against gas supply disruptions, agreeing to share details on contracts and cooperate across borders, the Slovak presidency said yesterday (5 December).

Concerns in Europe over the EU’s reliance on Russia for over a third of its gas needs have grown since pricing spats between Moscow and Kyiv disrupted gas supplies and in the wake of Russia’s seizure of the Crimea region from Ukraine in March 2014.

EU unveils plans to vet energy contracts outside bloc

The EU unveiled plans on Tuesday (16 February) to vet energy contracts that member states sign with countries outside the bloc as it seeks to cut dependence on Russian gas.

The European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete, said the new rules will “guarantee that no energy deal jeopardises the security of supply in an EU country, or hampers the functioning of the EU’s energy market.”

The Commission says it needs the new rules because about a third of 124 energy-related intergovernmental agreements in Europe fail to comply with EU law and contesting them has proved difficult.

It wants to avoid a repeat of the legal headaches it faced when it ruled that Russian gas giant Gazprom’s planned South Stream pipeline under the Black Sea ran counter to EU competition law, challenging a web of bilateral deals Russia cut with eastern European states.

South Stream bilateral deals breach EU law, Commission says

EXCLUSIVE / The bilateral agreements for the construction of the Gazprom-favoured South Stream gas pipeline – concluded between Russia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Greece, Slovenia, Croatia and Austria – are all in breach of EU law and need to be renegotiated from scratch, the European Commission said today (4 December).

Under the new rules, proposed by the Commission in February, EU nations will have to allow Brussels to review intergovernmental agreements on oil and gas deals before they sign them. Electricity deals will only have to be reported to the Commission after they are completed.

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