EU Wants Companies to Take Part in Joint Gas Purchase Plan

The European Union is set to ask companies this week to take part in the bloc’s plan to jointly buy gas, according to a draft document by the council of EU leaders. The draft does not heavily mention more contentious issues like disputes over nuclear energy and the plan to phase out combustion engine vehicles by 2035. It says Europe’s energy security, which has been hit hard by Russia cutting off gas supplies last year, has improved but the bloc must prepare for next winter. EU countries plan to jointly purchase gas in the coming months to help fill storages ahead of peak winter demand.

“It (the council of EU leaders) calls on all stakeholders involved to make full use of the joint purchasing mechanism,” the draft said.

Winter in Europe is nearing an end with a better energy security situation than feared, after countries cut their energy use, filled gas storage, and mild winter weather helped avoid shortages.

The draft conclusions would also ask the Commission to “where necessary” make proposals to extend emergency policies agreed at the height of last year’s energy crisis. The Commission is set to propose extending a voluntary target to cut winter gas consumption by 15%.

The draft made no explicit mention of disagreements over two flagship EU climate policies.

While opposition from Germany is stalling the EU’s flagship law to end sales of new combustion engine cars in 2035, a standoff between countries led by Germany on the one side and France on the other is blocking EU negotiations on renewable energy targets, over whether they should include nuclear energy-based fuels.

EU negotiators should “reach prompt agreement on all relevant proposals to accelerate the green transition”, the draft said.

Some EU diplomats said countries hope to avoid escalating the laws to leaders and risking a messy political fight – preferring to leave negotiations to diplomats or ministers responsible for the files.

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