South-east Europe is the most difficult link in the chain that the EU seeks to create as part of the energy union in order to enhance security of energy supplies and the diversification of sources and to create ‘energy islands’. A few days ago in Sofia, at the first meeting of representatives of countries in the region, under the authority of the Commission, the Vice-President for Energy Union, Mr Maroš Šefčovič, said that each country in the region, such as Bulgaria and Greece, should have access to three sources of natural gas through the creation of an energy hub, where three pipelines will meet (South Stream, South Energy Corridor and TANAP/TAP).
In view of the above, will the VP/HR say:
1. Does the EU support the creation of this energy hub and what roles will Greece, Bulgaria and Cyprus play?
2. Can the EU as a whole promote such a plan in the producer countries? If so, how exactly?
3. How is the crisis in Ukraine likely to affect this plan in the short term?
Answer given by Vice-President Šefčovič on behalf of the Commission
The Commission supports the creation of gas hubs, which can play an important role in developing regional gas markets. In order to ensure the proper functioning of a regional gas hub, national markets and networks need to be appropriately interconnected in order to allow gas to flow freely within the region, this would also apply to Bulgaria and Greece. To this end, the development of Projects of Common Interest will support these integration and diversification objectives. These may be extended to projects which help connect the EU with non-EU countries in South-East Europe. In addition, the CESEC Group(1) has been established in February 2015 by the Member States in the region and the Commission in order to coordinate efforts to facilitate cross-border and trans-European projects that diversify gas supplies to the region, as well as to implement harmonised rules.
In addition, it is needed to ensure that new sources of gas, for example from Cyprus, can reach the region and be traded on the hub in order to support liquidity and transparent price formation.
Regarding the current crisis between Ukraine and Russia, until today it has had no impact on the transit flows to the EU, including to South-Eastern Europe.
(1) High Level Group on Central and South Eastern Europe Gas Connectivity.