Western Balkan countries will be able to join the European Union’s platform for voluntary joint purchases of gas and hydrogen, the European Council said. Moldova, Ukraine, and Georgia, also non-EU countries, can join the mechanism, too.
Consumers are teaming up to get better prices from suppliers. The decision on voluntary joint energy purchases was made by EU leaders amid the energy crisis to stabilize gas prices and lower the dependency on Russian gas, European officials said.
European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen said the agreement on voluntary joint purchases of gas and hydrogen would enable collective bargaining power. Instead of outbidding each other and driving the crisis up, “we will pool our demand,” she stressed.
“First and foremost, we need to look at the root causes of high electricity prices, and this is in big part high and volatile gas prices. The energy mix and concrete situation of member states are very different, but we need to work together to pull our weight, and this is why I advocate for a strong European approach. If we look at the gas market, the pipeline gas market, 75% of the global gas pipeline market is the European market, so we have enormous purchasing power,” Von der Leyen said.
Tackling high energy prices
At the European Council meeting on March 24 and 25, the participants focused on high oil, gas, and energy prices. They also considered the option to suspend Russian gas and oil imports.
EU leaders agreed that the refilling of gas storage across the union should start as soon as possible. Russia announced it would receive payments for natural gas in rubles from March 31.
EU sanctions against Russia include a ban on the export of goods to the country, as well as technology in the oil refining sector, and a ban on new investments in the Russian energy sector.
The European Commission should present a comprehensive energy crisis response plan by the end of May
By the end of May, the European Commission should submit a comprehensive and ambitious energy crisis response plan that would take into account national circumstances and member states’ energy mixes, EU leaders concluded at the meeting in Brussels.
It was also noted that sustained high energy prices have an increasingly negative impact on citizens and businesses in the EU countries.
Conclusions and guidelines on energy supply
Member states and the European Commission will urgently work on the voluntary joint purchases of gas, liquefied natural gas (LNG), and hydrogen for next winter, according to the announcement.
EU leaders said the common purchasing platform would be open to Western Balkan countries and the three associated eastern partners: Moldova, Ukraine, and Georgia.
The European Union will continue coordination with international partners to mitigate the increase in energy prices, the European Commission said.
Member states and the commission will urgently complete and improve interconnections in the EU, and establish the necessary mechanisms of solidarity and compensation, the statement reads.
The commission stressed that energy security and climate neutrality can only be achieved if the European Union relies on a strong and fully interconnected internal electricity market, and a well-functioning carbon market.
Energy security and climate neutrality can only be achieved by relying on a strong and interconnected internal market
EU leaders urged the European Commission to submit proposals to contain excessive electricity prices, preserve the integrity of the single market and security of supply, ensure gas storage, maintain incentives for a green transition.