EU to push for gas sharing in crisis, African, Caspian supplies
The European Union's member states should be able to react to sudden gas shut-offs by transferring part of their own consumption to fellow-members, the French government is set to say at an EU summit in Brussels on Wednesday, dpa reported.
And the EU should try to obtain more energy from Africa and hold a "high-level meeting" with the countries of the Caspian basin and transit states such as Turkey and Georgia in spring 2009 in a bid to kick-start the diversification of gas supplies, the proposal adds.
France currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU, and at Wednesday's summit it is set to lay out a series of proposals on energy security.
A draft version of the proposals seen by Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa calls on member states to "put in place a mechanism in which each member state would foresee 'safety margins' allowing it to offer a certain percentage of its peak consumption in times of emergency."
That could be achieved "either by using existing stocks, by boosting production or importation or by lowering consumption," the draft proposal says.
The proposal is likely to prove controversial, as EU member states are fiercely protective of their national energy policies.
At the same time, the EU should push much harder to obtain energy supplies from new areas, the paper says.
"Particular attention should be paid to developing an energy partnership with Africa," and "a high-level meeting with the countries of the Caspian region and transit countries is foreseen for spring 2009," it says.
The EU is greatly dependent on natural gas supplies from a handful of states, most notably Russia. Since the Russian-Ukrainian gas crisis of 2005-06 and the Russian-Georgian war in August, the situation has rung alarm bells around the union.
On September 1, after the Georgian crisis, EU leaders agreed to "examine initiatives" on boosting energy security, "in particular as regards diversification of energy sources and supply routes."
However, some member states now say that the presidency's proposal is ill-timed, as the EU's executive, the European Commission, is set to launch its own energy-security review in November.