The European Committee of the Regions has given its support to the Directive amending common rules for the internal market in natural gas from November 2017 during its May Plenary Session. They agreed that common rules, based on the solidarity aspect of the Energy Union, must be held up to avoid dependence on a single supplier country or a strengthening of the position dominant of a single producer. The opinion is of particular political importance in view of the discussions on NordStream2.

The availability of sufficient quantities of natural gas at reasonable prices from reliable suppliers through modern, safe and resilient import infrastructure constitutes a cornerstone of sustainable standards of living for local and regional communities, according to the opinion on the “Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2009/73/EC concerning common rules for the internal market in natural gas”, which was led by rapporteur Mauro D’Attis (IT/EPP), Member of Roccafiorita Municipal Council (Messina).

The assembly of local and regional authorities underlined that natural gas is a key resource underpinning the business activities that provide work and dignity to the people belonging to local communities. It also reiterated the European Union’s environmental commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 80-95% below 1990 levels by 2050.

In many cases, local and regional authorities have key responsibilities in providing and/or distributing energy, in planning and environmental protection, in strengthening the security of energy supply and as interlocutors for citizens, companies and national authorities on energy provision. Mauro D’Attis therefore wanted to strike the right balance when supporting the initiative of the European Commission, intervening on the regulation of future infrastructures and positively evaluating the exceptions on the existing infrastructures. “In this way, local and regional communities are protected. Now it is up to the European Commission and the Member States to work in the right direction,” he concluded.

Rapporteur in the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek added: “Reliably supplied cities, villages, regions – this is what our Energy Union is about. We want it to be based on values and principles, not on exceptions. All the pipelines from third countries have to fully comply, on the entire EU territory, including territorial waters and exclusive economic zones of the Member States, with existing EU rules, primarily the Third Energy Package. Such a legal clarity will ensure real competition, which is at the heart of a well-functioning gas market that should supply our regions, businesses and citizens with secure and affordable energy in a non-discriminatory way. I too hope the Council will be ready soon to conclude inter-institutional negotiations on this important legislation“.

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