The EU Energy Council met on 28 February 2022 in Brussels to address the extraordinary situation of security of energy supplies and the energy price developments in the EU, further to the Russian Federation’s unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against Ukraine. Ministers reviewed the EU collective state of preparedness and resilience and discussed possible short and medium term enhanced action and assistance to Ukraine, further to the European Council call for taking forward the work on preparedness and readiness at all levels, and the invitation to the European Commission (EC), in particular, to put forward contingency measures, including on energy.
Support to Ukraine
Member States respond favourably to Ukraine's requests for assistance and invite the EC to propose all possible options.
Member States also invite the EC to put forward solutions that would ensure needed energy supplies and fuels to Ukraine, including ensuring sufficient reverse flow of gas.
On electricity specifically, Member States welcomed support for Ukraine by European Transmission System Operators and notably the operators in countries neighbouring Ukraine. Member States underlined the importance of enabling the urgent emergency synchronisation of the Ukrainian power grid to the power grid of continental Europe and the need to consider the impact on Republic of Moldova. In this context, Member States requested the ENTSO-E in cooperation with the relevant TSOs to convene without delay and identify the conditions for such an emergency synchronisation, notably technical needs and timing to ensure safe operation of the concerned electricity systems.
Finally, Member States share concerns regarding the safety of Ukrainian nuclear installations and will agree to support international actions aimed at maintaining nuclear safety. Ministers allied themselves with the European Nuclear Safety Regulators’ (ENSREG) statement related to safe operation of nuclear power plants in Ukraine, issued on 27 February 2022. Ministers also urge the Russian Federation to immediately cease unlawful activities in Ukraine to restore the competent Ukrainian authorities’ control over all nuclear facilities and materials.
The EU and the Member States will continue to coordinate closely, in conjunction with Ukraine, their international partners and their neighbours, to strengthen short- and medium-term actions.
Short term measures
Ministers agreed to continue to work closely with Ukraine and international partners in a spirit of unity and solidarity. Member States and the EU are prepared and ready to take action to ensure the continued security of energy supplies. Based on flexible infrastructures, efficient markets and proven coordination procedures, the European energy system is highly prepared and resilient. The ministers took note of the EC's analysis and simulations, which, in addition to the national work, lead to the conclusion that there is no risk for the EU's security of supply in the immediate future.
Ministers also analysed various possible scenarios for the coming weeks and months, in order to anticipate the potential difficulties that could arise and verify the EU's ability to overcome them. With regard to gas supply, coordinated action by the Member States and the EC should make it possible to maximise supplies from outside Europe, particularly in terms of LNG, by strengthening contacts with producing countries and by adapting if needed their infrastructure. Ministers also reviewed Member States contingency plans to ensure a continuous supply of gas, protecting consumers in case of supply disruption. Member States also agreed to continue working on contingency planning to be activated in case of need and to coordinate preparation for next winter.
As regards oil supplies, it will be necessary to prepare the EU's contribution to any possible action, in particular within the framework of the International Energy Agency; Member states stand ready to release strategic stocks if the evolution of the supply situation makes it necessary.
Ministers called on the EC to continue monitoring closely the situation, in particular on oil and gas markets, and develop further measures to ensure European preparedness and strengthen the EU’s resilience.
The protection of consumers, both households and businesses, in particular the most vulnerable, in a context of volatile energy prices is a priority for the Ministers. Member States discussed the measures that would be needed to reduce consumers’ exposure to volatile energy prices. Ministers therefore, call on the EC to swiftly update the October 2021 'toolbox' on prices to take into account of the latest developments and propose new initiatives that can have immediate, tangible and positive impacts on consumers' energy bills.
In view of the next heating season, Ministers agreed to step up coordinated actions. Ministers agreed to reinforce collective preparedness and solidarity mechanisms ahead of the coming winter by making best use of storage and LNG capacity. Member States also agreed to step up regional coordination and to adapt regulations to maximise the effectiveness of existing storage capacities available across EU Member States.
Furthermore, Member States called on the EC to assess further options to decrease the reliance on a single supplier without delay and to set up a framework that would support the definition of intra-EU gas solidarity agreements.
Ministers agreed to increase a coordinated outreach to neighbours and international partners, in particular energy suppliers, to secure additional oil and LNG imports and reduce EU's dependency on Russian supplies.
Member States agreed to join forces to strengthen Europe's resilience in a spirit of solidarity through coordinated action to ensure increased investments in renewable and safe and sustainable low-carbon energy technologies and energy efficiency measures, interconnections, and further diversification of suppliers and energy sources.
Finally, Ministers stressed the need to accelerate the transformation of the energy system to reduce its dependency on hydrocarbons. The Green Deal and the ‘Fit for 55%’ legislative package will play a pivotal role in the achievement of this goal.
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