EU Council of Ministers to agree to reformed gas directive

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Photo: Reuters
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Photo: Reuters

Today, the Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council of the EU convenes in Brussels, with the so-called Gas Directive at the top of the agenda.

The directive would expand EU gas and energy regulations to third-party energy suppliers, covering pipelines that enter the EU from non-member states. Effectively, this means that the EU’s ‘unbundling’ requirement—that companies controlling gas pipelines remain independent from energy suppliers—will extend to non-EU countries, including Russia.

The Gas Directive quickly received support in the European Parliament in mid-February, but not before Germany struck a deal that will likely allow the contentious Nord Stream 2 pipeline to continue construction. At first, it appeared that the pipeline could be endangered by the proposed law, given the monopolistic nature of Russia’s state-owned energy firm Gazprom.

Gazprom will almost certainly not comply with the EU’s goal of diversified free markets, but German officials remain optimistic about Nord Stream’s completion. As such, while the European Council will sign off on the Gas Directive today, expect the law to eventually run into difficulties. Many of the bloc’s Eastern European members are wary of Russian influence, potentially leading some national governments to jettison the law, given the state of the Nord Stream project. Indeed, European energy policy, and Nord Stream 2 specifically, will continue to be rife with contention.

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