At this week’s meeting of the European council, the EU member states will agree to jointly purchase natural gas, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and hydrogen ahead of next winter.
This year, more supplies will be needed as, according to the European Commission’s upcoming legislative proposal, underground gas storage across the EU must be filled up to at least 90 % of its capacity by 1 October each year. Currently, storage volumes are at 26 %.
Russian invasion of Ukraine has caused energy prices to soar to record highs and put the EU on a mission to cut Russian gas use this year, a move that will require a jump in imports from other suppliers, such as Qatar and the United States.
The European Commission last year proposed a system for EU countries to jointly buy strategic stocks of gas, which some members including Spain had called for as a way to provide a buffer against potential supply disruptions. Russia supplies some 40 % of EU gas.
European gas prices had already risen in the months leading up to the invasion, prompting governments to spend billions on tax breaks and subsidies to shield citizens from the costs.
Finding a joint EU response, however, has proved difficult. EU countries are largely responsible for their national energy policies, and disagree on whether EU-wide action is needed to tame prices.
Spain, Belgium, Portugal, Italy and Greece are among those calling for intervention in Europe’s energy markets, to cap prices or decouple the price of electricity from the soaring price of gas.
States including Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark oppose market intervention, and warn of causing disruptions to energy markets that could undermine investments in clean energy.
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Tags: gas, gas purchase, gas supply, Other, regulation