BRUSSELS: The EU unveiled on Tuesday plans to vet energy contracts that member states sign with countries outside the bloc as it seeks to cut dependence on Russian gas.
The European Commission proposed changes so it can review such agreements before they are signed to see if they comply with EU rules.
Currently the Commission can only examine contracts after they have been signed.
“It means no country should sign an inter-governmental agreement until the Commission has given its opinion,” EU energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete told a press conference. Such opinions would be given in 12 weeks and the member state would have to do its “utmost” to take the findings into consideration.
“This is an important and unprecedented step to ensure a level playing field for all,” Canete said. “As EU markets continue to integrate, decisions taken by one member state can have a negative impact on the security of supply in neighbouring countries.”
The European Union is already investigating whether Russian state energy firm Gazprom has imposed unfair prices which breach the EU’s rules, in a move which further inflamed relations already strained by the Ukraine crisis.
For the tenth year in a row, EU states imported half of their energy needs in 2014. A third of their gas imports comes from Russia alone and some newer eastern members are almost entirely reliant on Moscow.
“With political tensions on our borders still on a knife-edge, it is a sharp reminder that this problem is not going to go away,” Canete said.
Brussels also wants to be automatically notified of any commercial contract lasting more than one year if the market share it involves means that it carries a risk of security of supply.
Courtesy : Dawn News