Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

Russia and the EU will warn each other of potential energy disruptions

Adelina Marini, November 17, 2009

As a continuation of the agreements from the EU-Russia summit in Khabarovsk earlier this year, the European commissioner on energy policy Andris Piebalgs and the Russian energy minister Sergey Shmatko signed on Monday a Memorandum on an Early Warning Mechanism. The document includes a clear definition of the circumstances that would trigger the activation of the mechanism, in terms of what constitutes a "significant disruption of supplies". According to the mechanism, Russia will have to clearly explain whether potential disruption are caused by maintenance of relevant infrastructure, accidents, or commercial disputes.

The president of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso praised the Memorandum by saying that it was clear evidence of the goodwill of both sides to work together in a trustworthy, building ways to prevent and solve problems, even before they happen.

The new mechanism covers oil, natural gas and electricity, and includes three basic steps: notification, consultation and implementation. A serious achievement in the document is the decision third parties to be allowed to take part in the arrangement of a problem.

Two weeks ago the Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin has warned that it was possible the January gas crisis which left half of Europe without gas deliveries, to be repeated. Bulgaria was the worst hit EU member state from the crisis because it did not have alternative deliveries and sources. According to Putin, a possible reason for the crisis would again be the financial problems of Ukraine. The minister of the economy Traycho Traykov reassured that there was no need to worry because the natural gas depot in Chiren is full and Bulgaria already had a reverse connection with Greece as a spare source of gas deliveries.