Gas: EU wants 90% stocks by November

Brussels wants to force EU states to fill their gas reserves to 90% by November. The 27 ‘are also considering capping gas and electricity prices’, said Maros Sefcovic, Vice-President of the European Commission, on Tuesday.

“We will propose a legislative framework that would oblige each country to fill its gas storage reserves to 90% before November 1, to be more resilient in the event of geopolitical developments or harsh winters”, he announced after a meeting of Ministers for European Affairs of the Twenty-Seven.

The Commission’s proposal, which provides for regular controls of the reserves, will be unveiled on Wednesday and then submitted to the States and MEPs. It is part of the EU’s objective to reduce by two thirds this year its purchases of Russian gas, on which it remains extremely dependent.

In its energy ‘roadmap’ of March 8, the European executive had mentioned the objective of 90% but setting the deadline at the end of September. In early March, European stocks were 30% full.

There is broad consensus on the measure but “debates will continue so that we have uniform and reinforced storage rules”, observed the French Secretary of State for European Affairs, Clément Beaune, whose country holds the half-yearly presidency of the Council of the EU.

Cooperation instead of competition

Brussels will also specify on Wednesday its project on future grouped purchases of gas, shared between Member States, which would make it possible to use “the enormous economic weight of Europe” to obtain better prices.

‘A special working group will be in close contact with the States and the main players in the sector (…) we should cooperate, not compete with each other’ on the international markets, underlined Maros Sefcovic, anticipating strong support from the Twenty- Seven. This coordination would help diversify EU supplies beyond Russia.

This coordination would help diversify EU supplies. The Commission is already discussing with the main producing countries (Norway, United States, Qatar, Algeria).

The President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, also met on Monday the bosses of major European energy groups (E.ON, Shell, Vattenfall, Eni, etc.), including the CEO of TotalEnergies, Patrick Pouyanné, told AFP a European source. ‘A simple contact’, reacted a spokesperson for the Commission.


Finally, ‘we are considering capping the prices of electricity and gas, to mitigate’ the surge in prices ‘for consumers’, insisted Mr. Sefcovic, noting that market volatility can ‘aggravate energy poverty’ and ‘undermining the competitiveness of the industry’.

States remain divided. ‘The reduction of our dependencies is more consensual than the reform of our markets and the development of price control tools (…) The discussion is difficult on the question of a price cap in periods of strong increases’ , admitted Clément Beaune.

However, ‘the idea that it will take a reform of the European electricity market, in particular to control final consumer prices, has gained ground in recent weeks in view of the increase in prices’, a- he added.


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