Information exchange mechanism in the field of energy
Decision (EU) 2017/684 — sharing information on energy-related intergovernmental agreements and non-binding instruments between EU countries and non-EU countries
WHAT IS THE AIM OF THE DECISION?
It sets up a system for sharing information between EU countries and the European Commission about energy agreements signed between one or several EU countries, on the one side, and non-EU countries or international organisations, on the other side.
The aim is to ensure that intergovernmental agreements signed by EU countries with non-EU countries or international organisations are consistent with EU law. This should ensure proper functioning of the internal market, enhance security of supply in the EU, and lead to better transparency and coordination in energy matters between EU countries and with the Commission.
It repeals Decision No 994/2012/EU.
The decision mainly covers legally binding agreements between an EU country and a non-EU country (or international organisation) concerning the purchase, trade, sale, transit, storage or supply of energy in or to an EU country or involving any energy infrastructure within the EU.
When starting such negotiations, EU countries must inform the Commission as early as possible before they begin and keep the Commission regularly informed on progress through a dedicated web-based application.
Before finalising an intergovernmental agreement or amendment, the EU country concerned must take ‘utmost account’ of the Commission’s opinion on the compatibility of the agreement with EU law.
Following ratification of any energy agreement, the EU country must notify the Commission, including the reasons for any departure from the Commission’s legal opinion.
EU countries may optionally notify non-binding instruments to the Commission. These are arrangements which are not legally binding, typically memoranda of understanding, joint declarations, or joint codes of conduct, which set out prices, for example, or the development of infrastructure.
Oil and gas
Where discussions are about gas and oil, any draft agreement should be notified to the Commission for a prior (ex-ante) assessment. The Commission must inform the EU country concerned within 5 weeks of any doubts it has about compatibility of the agreement with EU law, in particular with internal energy market rules and competition law. The Commission will follow up its doubts with a full opinion within 12 weeks of the original notification.
EU countries can make their own assessment of the legal compatibility of electricity agreements with EU law at the draft agreement stage.
Where the EU country has not been able to come to a firm conclusion on this compatibility, it must notify the draft agreement to the Commission and the same procedure as in the case of oil and gas ex-ante assessment will be followed.
The time periods for the assessment of any of the above-mentioned agreements (oil and gas, electricity) may be extended with the approval of the EU country, or shortened with the agreement of the Commission to ensure that negotiations are not unduly delayed.
By 3 August 2017, EU countries must have notified the Commission of all existing intergovernmental energy agreements including the notified agreements related to electricity. Where the Commission has initial doubts about the legal compatibility with EU laws of these agreements, EU countries will be informed accordingly by the Commission within 9 months of notification.
Where an EU country has not indicated that certain information is confidential, the Commission will make it available in secure electronic form to all other EU countries. Where the information is confidential, the EU country will provide a summary, including at least the agreement’s subject matter, aim, scope, duration, parties involved and information on the main elements.
Requests for confidentiality do not restrict the access of the Commission itself to confidential information.
This sharing aims to encourage coordination among EU countries to:
- review developments and achieve consistency in EU external energy relations;
- identify common problems and appropriate action to address them, proposing guidance and solutions;
- support the development of multilateral intergovernmental agreements involving groups of EU countries or the EU as a whole.
By 3 May 2018, the Commission, consulting with EU countries, will develop model clauses and guidance to improve the compliance of future intergovernmental energy agreements with EU law.
FROM WHEN DOES THE DECISION APPLY?
It has applied since 2 May 2017.
For more information, see:
Decision (EU) 2017/684 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2017 on establishing an information exchange mechanism with regard to intergovernmental agreements and non-binding instruments between Member States and third countries in the field of energy, and repealing Decision No 994/2012/EU (OJ L 99, 12.4.2017, pp. 1-9)
last update 22.03.2018