Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) EU member states are expected to agree to a proposal that they buy energy jointly this year in preparation for next winter when they confer at their Summit in Brussels later this week, Reuters reports.
The EU is seeking to reduce its dependency on Russian energy imports, a problem exacerbated by Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine that has caused energy prices to rise.
“With a view to next winter, member states and the Commission will urgently… work together on the joint purchase of gas, LNG and hydrogen”, a draft statement for the Summit notes.
Last year, the European Commission proposed the joint purchase of strategic gas supplies, which some EU member states had called for in order to protect against any supply disruptions.
Russia’s attack on Ukraine has stirred further fears of supply shocks given that it, as a major energy exporter, it supplies roughly 40% of EU’s natural gas.
New rules coming
The EC is expected to propose new rules this week requiring EU member states to fill their gas storage facilities to 90% of capacity ahead of each heating season. The draft statement indicates that members have agreed to coordinate efforts to fill their gas storage units “as soon as possible.”
Also, EU leaders are expected to discuss further measures to cushion the impact of soaring energy prices as well as to find ways to “optimise” energy markets. The draft statement indicates they plan to call on the EC to take the “necessary initiatives” to make this happen.
Natural gas prices in the EU were rising steeply even before the start of the conflict in Ukraine. National governments had been introducing measures to protect their citizens from the price hikes.
Some bloc members, Belgium, Greece, Spain and Portugal, for example, want the EC to intervene in the energy market. Others, such as Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands, warn against market interventions, fearing such moves could undermine the bloc’s green push.
Recently, pursuing its own plan to wean itself off Russian gas imports, Germany’s Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Action, Robert Habeck, visited Qatar and the UAE to secure natural gas deliveries from sources other than Russia.