Sofia, February 10, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Clive Leviev-Sawyer of The Sofia Globe
European countries should demonstrate that they could work together to achieve greater interconnectivity, European Commission vice-president for energy union Maroš Šefčovič said in Sofia.
He was speaking during a visit to the Bulgarian capital to attend a February 9 conference, where a High Level Group on Central and Southeast Europe Gas Connectivity was established.
“The EU is here to help Bulgaria and the region. I intend to start together what’s necessary for guaranteeing the region’s energy security, for the implementation of the infrastructural projects in it, linking them to Central Europe, in order to build up a stable Energy Union,” Šefčovič said after the meeting, according to a report by Bulgarian National Radio.
According to EU Commissioner for Energy and Climate Action Miguel Cañete, the development of the Southern Gas Corridor and its link to European networks, the development of domestic reserves in the Black Sea, and the development of LNG gas terminals play a key role in achieving independence of the region..
Bulgaria, Greece and Romania agreed to establish a subgroup to the High Level Group on Central and Southeast Europe Gas Connectivity, responsible for the Vertical Gas Corridor.
Bulgarian Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova invited representatives of Romania, Greece and Hungary to attend the first meeting on the Vertical Gas Corridor towards the end of March in Bulgaria. Hungary is expected to announce whether it will participate in the subgroup.
On February 9, cabinet ministers and representatives of Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia and the European Commission issued a joint media statement after the first meeting of the Central East South Europe Gas Connectivity (CESEC) High Level Group in Sofia.
They said that the objective of the High Level Group is to establish a regional priority infrastructure roadmap and advance its implementation in order to develop missing infrastructure and improve security of gas supplies. Ultimately each Member State of the region should have access to at least three different sources of gas.
“Timely implementation of infrastructure is particularly important in view of the vulnerable situation of the Central Eastern Europe and South East Europe region,” the statement said.
It said that this had been demonstrated most recently by the European Energy Security Strategy and Stress Tests performed last year.
“Security of energy supply is one of the building blocks of the Energy Union project, one of the priorities for the European Commission.”
The High Level Group adopted its Terms of Reference which define the specific scope of its activities and governance structure.
The discussions covered both external and internal aspects of the supply situation in the region, with a specific focus on interconnections and on the optimal use of existing infrastructure.
Further expert level analyses will be carried out in sub-groups looking at specific infrastructure corridors with the aim of identifying missing links and other barriers hindering effective market integration.
The High-Level Group agreed that an Action Plan with concrete deliverables to accelerate realisation of the identified projects will be adopted by early summer. Its implementation will be regularly monitored by the High Level Group itself, thus building on the political momentum to end market fragmentation and prevent potential future supply crises.
While the High Level Group has been established by the abovementioned Member States, neighbouring countries will also be involved to ensure a regional approach beyond the borders of the EU, the statement said.
Input from National Energy Regulatory Authorities, ENTSOG, ACER, the Energy Community Secretariat and project promoters (TSO or non-TSO) as well as International Financial Institutions will provide the basis for a solid assessment.
The High Level Group will meet again by early summer to take stock of the progress achieved on expert level and establish the Action Plan, the statement said.