Friday, March 03, 2017

EP requires members to inform EU of energy deals ahead of negotiations

The rules requiring member states of the European Union (EU) to inform the bloc's executive of their plans to negotiate energy supply deals with third countries before opening negotiations were approved in a plenary of European Parliament on Thursday.

"This legislation will ensure the energy security of the member states, creating effective ex-ante mechanisms for the European Commission to check draft agreements on gas and oil supplies, and to verify their compliance with both EU law and energy security needs," said rapporteur Zdzislaw Krasnodebski whose draft text was approved by 542 votes to 87, with 19 abstentions.

The rules require that an EU member state entering into negotiations with a third country, to amend or conclude an intergovernmental energy agreement, inform the European Commission in writing before the start of the negotiations.

At present, member states are required to submit such agreements to the European Commission only after signature.

Under the new rules, the EU executive may respond to a notification by advising on how to ensure that the agreement to be negotiated is compatible with EU law.

Meanwhile, the EU executive arms may participate in the negotiations as an observer, at a member state's request, or when it considers it necessary. However, its participation will be subject to the written approval of the member state concerned.

According to the new rules, the European Commission will have five weeks to inform the member state that it has doubts about the deal under negotiation, and 12 additional weeks to give its opinion on the deal's compatibility with EU law, and internal energy market and competition law.

If a member state fails to take account of the EU executive's opinion in the ratified version of the agreement, it should explain the reasons for its decision, said the legislation text.

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