Polish Briefing 4 September, 2018 9:00 am   
Editorial staff

Polish Briefing: Austria wants to talk about the winter package, but not about the gas directive

What goes on in Poland on the 4th of September.

Climate change, the winter package and sustainable agriculture are the priorities of the Austrian EU presidency. The most controversial changes in the gas directive are unlikely to be the subject of the Austrian presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Winter package

– The main theme of the Austrian Presidency is ‘Europe that protects’ – said the minister. – For me, climate protection is a priority. It is my political goal that climate protection should become a concern for citizens, not only in Austria but throughout Europe. The Austrian Presidency wants to adopt the full package of clean energy by the end of this year – said Köstinger.

“Clean energy for all Europeans”, also known as the Winter Package (from the moment the document is presented) consists of four regulations and four directives. This is a set of recommendations of the European Commission regarding changes in the law regarding EU energy and climate policy for 2020-2030. The package consists of proposals for reforming the legislative system of managing the so-called Energy Union, amendment of the Energy Efficiency Directive, amendment of the RES Directive and regulation and market directive, aimed at completing the construction of the European energy market, assuming the integration of national and regional markets, so as to enable trade in electricity. The proposed changes are expected to take effect after 2020.

Gas Directive outside the agenda

However, the Austrian minister did not mention the changes in the gas directive that could subordinate the planned Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to the third energy package. The European Commission has presented proposals to amend the gas directive in November 2017.

In March 2018, the European Parliament’s Energy and Industry Committee adopted the amendments proposed by the European Commission to the Gas Market Directive, according to which gas pipelines built by third countries and entering the European Union must comply fully with EU gas market regulations and the exceptions must be limited in time. The project must be accepted by member countries so that it can be negotiated with the EP, which has already supported the new rules. Therefore, after the decision of the countries, the final shape of the directive could be accepted quite quickly. The changes introduced to the directive are to clearly indicate that the submarine parts of gas pipelines within the EU are subject to the provisions of the EU third energy package.

If such rules were adopted, they could jeopardize the profitability of the Nord Stream 2 project. However, it is important that the preparatory work prior to the construction of the gas pipeline has already begun and that work on new regulations is progressing slowly.