The European Commission has proposed a new regulation to improve the security of gas supplies in the European Union.

The European Commission has proposed a new regulation to improve the security of gas supplies in the European Union (EU).

The proposed regulation would strengthen the existing EU system for gas supply security by ensuring that all member states and their gas market players take effective action in advance to prevent and mitigate the consequences of potential disruptions to gas supplies.

It would also create mechanisms for member states to work together to deal effectively with any major gas disruptions that might arise.

Commission president, José Manuel Barroso, said: 'Europe must learn the lessons of previous crises and make sure that European citizens are never again left in the cold through no fault of their own. This proposal of the Commission would oblige member states to be prepared and work together in case of further gas disruptions.'

Energy commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, called on the Council and the European parliament to adopt the proposals quickly. 'We have known for some time that the existing arrangements to deal with gas emergencies are insufficient. The Russia-Ukraine gas dispute in January 2009 confirmed our fears. All member states recognise that we need common standards for security of gas supply for the whole EU,' he said.

The proposed regulation would require all member states to have an authority responsible for monitoring gas supply developments, assessing risks to supplies, establishing preventive action plans and setting up emergency plans. It would also oblige member states to collaborate closely in a crisis through shared access to supply information.

The proposed regulation was prepared in response to a request from the European Council, the European parliament and the Energy Council, which asked the energy commissioner on 19 February 2009 to improve the EU emergency response framework for gas to replace the 2004 Gas Security Directive.

The EU is a major gas consumer, and the January 2009 gas crisis demonstrated weaknesses in the current mechanisms for dealing with supply disruptions.

Gas now represents more than one quarter of energy supply in the EU. More than half of this gas comes from external sources, and by 2020 more than 80 per cent of EU gas is likely to be imported. Some member states are already totally dependent on imported gas.

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