EU parliament’s conservative group head calls for binding energy solidarity rules
The EU has to come up with a clear and stringent solidarity mechanism to prepare for a shortfall of Russian gas deliveries next winter to avoid repeating mistakes made in cooperation at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, German conservative EU politician Manfred Weber said. “We have to prepare for a difficult winter,” Christian Democrat (CSU) Weber, who heads the conservative EEP faction in the European Parliament, told newspaper Tagesspiegel in an interview. “Europe urgently needs decisions on binding energy solidarity,” Weber said, adding he hopes to not see a situation of national egoism prevail like in the early stages of the pandemic, when EU borders were shut and most states tried to procure protective equipment like facial masks on their own. “Europe had failed at the time,” Weber said, arguing that this could not be repeated next autumn, when a gas supply crisis could become more severe. “Given Putin’s apparent determination, we must expect him to throttle down or completely stop deliveries,” Weber said, arguing that Germany therefore should “use all forms of energy production we have,” which includes nuclear power. The EU should hold a special leaders' summit in July to decide on binding gas allocation mechanisms aimed at a joint management of the bloc’s gas storages. “Gas arriving in Europe has to be shared in a fair way,” Weber said.
An immediate cut to Russian gas supplies could be partly cushioned for affected countries by the EU’s Secure Gas Supplies regulation, introduced in 2017. It regulates that member states assist each other with gas supplies in case of a shortage and the countries are required to put in place the necessary technical, legal and financial arrangements to make the provision of ‘solidarity gas’ possible in practice. So far, Germany has made legal arrangements for gas assistance only with Denmark and Austria.