Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Russia and EU agree on Early Warning Mechanism

The European Union and Russia agreed on November 16th to establish an early warning mechanism to shield Europe from potential energy supply cuts and protect consumers in the event of a repeat of last year's Russia-Ukraine gas dispute. The agreement requires both sides to notify the other of any likely disruption to supplies of oil, natural gas or electricity and to work together to resolve the problem. Third parties would also be allowed to participate, the European Commission said. "An energy crisis like the one the EU suffered in January is harmful for supply, transit and consuming countries alike," EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said after signing the agreement with Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko. "We need to do everything necessary to make sure that such a situation never happens again," he said in a statement.
Concerns are growing that the dispute could be repeated this January, when Ukraine holds presidential elections. Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said the country had struggled to pay its latest monthly gas bill to Russia.

Last winter, millions of EU citizens were left in the cold because of a gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine. Russian gas supplies to Europe via Ukraine - a route that supplies a fifth of Europe's gas - were halted for more than two weeks in January due to a quarrel between Moscow and Kiev.

EurActiv with Reuters