The history of Gas Directive amendment

Good afternoon,

It is great to see you do intensive research on the subject. I just wanted to supplement information relating to Gas Directive amendment, especially that it has being intensively discussed in the EU in the last several days, but also in the recent months. I insert links to the original documents & to some of the media articles (mostly in English, just few of them are in Polish /media in Poland are closely following fate of the Gas Directive amendment so few times had information which couldn’t not be found in other media at least by me ;)/ – sorry for that).

Indeed EC proposed to amend EU Gas Directive in November 2017. This proposal was endorsed & somehow strengthened by the European Parliament (report by ITRE Committee, with Jerzy Buzek as a rapporteur) in April 2018. Then it had been passed to the EU Council where works on the amendment had de facto stalled for several months. That was due to the strong resistance of some member states – mostly those supporting Nord Stream 2 /Germany, Austria/ – to amend the Directive. Amendments to the Gas Directive have been supported by over 10 member states (among them CEE, Baltic countries, Denmark & UK), the EC & the European Parliament. There were also calls for unblocking & speeding up works on the Council level. There were also some legal opinions issued in the mean time – inter alia several by EU Council legal services. One of them was mostly critical of parts of the EU Commission document while the other supported some of the EC’s proposals. There was also an interesting study on regulatory framework for NS2 published by Florence School of Regulation (and co-authored by ex EC Energy Commissionaire Andris Piebalgs) – largely supportive for EC efforts to regulate the projected pipeline’s legal regime.

In late November 2018 the outgoing (then) Austrian presidency to the Council of the EU presented a new proposal of amendments to the Gas Directive which was significantly different from EU Commission one and criticized according to Polish media by ~ 12 member states supportive of the original proposal and by the EU Commission itself. In early 2019 current, Romanian presidency to the Council came up with new proposal (s) (the one from Feb 4th differing from the first one from Jan 9th) of amendments which, supplemented by the German-French agreed additions (after twists in French position on Gas Directive amendments), were subject of discussions at recent Council’s Committee of Permanent Representatives – COREPER – on 8th February & largely accepted (according to media reports only Bulgaria was against it). Document accepted by the Member States / Council/ supported of course some of the EU Commission proposals, yet it also contains changes by the NS2 proponents (including German-French). As such it became EU Council mandate for talks about final version of the Directive during the so called trilogues which started last Tuesday (Feb 12th) in Strasbourg & quite unexpectedly ended after several hours of talks also on Tuesday. We still await publication of the agreed text which will be then subject to approval by the Council and EP plenary. If it happens agreed text should be published in the Official Journal of the EU and (according to EP press release) 20 days later enter into force. Then Member states should have up to 9 months to transpose that into national law. We read that both EP and EU Commission praise the deal achieved as a success yet media reports and assessments differ from those presented by politicians (see p.ex this by Financial Times or this by Bloomberg).

Whereas it is difficult to discuss the document that has not been published yet I assume that the document of the amendments to the Gas Directive which left the trilogues should not differ significantly with the one accepted by the Council as:

  • It was a very difficult task to have a political agreement of EU Member States on that issue
  • European Parliament had at its disposal unusually (especially for such a controversial document) limited time to insert its corrections to the text

The time will show – Gas Directive amendments accepted at trilogues are right now being edited by EP & Council’s legal services and should be published within next several days. Then in the next weeks we will see what happens with that document further.

I think that it is somehow fascinating to observe that dynamics around piece of EU legislation, how much it is shaped by specific interests of actors involved but also related to broader context (pace of Nord Stream 2 construction, upcoming EU elections) etc. And as this process is directly related to Nord Stream 2, perhaps in the near future, we could discuss it (Tom what do you think?) and analyse the document: try to assess its possible implications for Nord Stream 2, how much it meets expectations of project’s supporters & opponents & what does it show about strengths & limits of EU energy policy etc


2 thoughts on “The history of Gas Directive amendment

  1. Here is text of the amendments to the Gas Directive after last week’s trilogue

    Next steps – usually nothing should change from now on as document has been discussed and changed by all EU institutions involved – amended directive should get approval at this week’s COREPER (on February 20th), then on EP plenary session (probably in April) and then at energy council (meeting of EU member states ministers of energy) so it could enter into force in May/June


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