EU ministers back sharing natural gas contract supply data, not prices

EU ministers back sharing natural gas contract supply data, not prices

EU energy ministers have backed sharing supply data from large commercial natural gas contracts with the relevant national authority but stopped short of automatic notification to the European Commission, according to EU Council documents.

Ministers agreed in principle that companies would have to notify contracts covering 40% or more of national gas demand to the competent national authority.

This national authority would assess their impact on national and regional gas supply security, and then choose which, if any, to notify to the EC, based on their security impact, according to the documents published after ministers met Monday in Brussels.

The EC proposed in February that companies automatically notify it of all long-term contracts covering or contributing to 40% or more of annual gas demand in the EU country concerned.

The proposals were part of the EU’s draft update to the EU’s 2010 gas supply security regulation.

Ministers added that the 40% national demand threshold would have to be “further clarified,” given the EU has an integrated gas market.

Comparing contracts to national demand is irrelevant when gas can be traded anywhere in the EU market, Germany’s energy state secretary Rainer Baake said during a debate at Monday’s meeting.

He also questioned the value of assessing long-term contracts, given that short-term contracts are becoming more common.

“We in Germany do not see any need to look at the impact of contracts on security of supply,” Baake said.

If contracts were to be assessed, then the administrative burden should be minimized and the EC’s role limited, he said.


Ministers also agreed in principle that national competent authorities and the EC could request supply security information from contracts below the 40% threshold, under conditions still to be specified.

This information could not include prices, the ministers said.

The next step is for the Slovak EU presidency to work with national diplomats on an informal negotiating mandate.

This would enable Malta, which takes over the rotating six-month EU presidency January 1, to open informal talks with the EC and the European Parliament next year on the common text needed for the proposals to become binding.

The ministers’ position is at odds with that of the EP’s energy committee, which adopted its negotiating position October 13.

The committee backed automatic notification of the relevant contracts, and proposed having fines for companies failing to provide the required data, among other things.

It also called for all contract changes to be notified, including on gas prices.


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