On May 11th the European Council reached a mandate for negotiations with the European Parliament on a proposal on gas storage. In order to improve EU security of supply in the current geopolitical context, the proposal aims to ensure that gas storage capacities in the EU are filled before the next winter season and can be shared between member states in a spirit of solidarity. The mandate was agreed by the representatives of the member states in Coreper.
The mandate specifies the rules for underground gas storage and possibilities for counting stocks of liquefied natural gas (LNG), while limiting obligations to a certain volume of the annual gas consumption of the member states over the last five years, in order to avoid a disproportionate impact on certain member states with a large storage capacity.
As not all member states have storage facilities on their territory, the mandate stipulates that member states without storage facilities will have access to gas storage reserves in other member states and will have to share the financial burden of the filling obligations.
Member states have also agreed on mandatory certification for all storage system operators in order to avoid potential risks of external influence on critical storage infrastructures, which could jeopardise security of energy supply or any other essential security interest.
Member states agreed that the filling obligations would expire on 31 December 2026. Finally, the mandate provides for a derogation to be granted to Cyprus, Malta, and Ireland as long as they are not directly interconnected with the gas system of other member states.
Background and next steps
The European Commission adopted its proposal for a European gas storage policy on 23 March 2022. The proposal modifies two existing regulations on security of gas supply and access to natural gas transmission networks.
On 24 and 25 March 2022, the European Council instructed the Council to examine the work on the Commission’s proposals, taking due account of and respecting the interests of member states with significant storage capacity in order to ensure a fair balance. The European Council considered that the replenishment of gas stocks across the Union should start as soon as possible, taking full account of national preparedness measures.
The Council presidency will now start negotiations with the European Parliament, in order to agree swiftly on a final version of the text. The two institutions will then formally adopt the regulation.