The rules governing the EU's internal gas market will in future also apply to pipelines to and from third countries. The Council today formally adopted an amendment to the so-called gas directive which aims at closing a legal gap in the EU's regulatory framework and boosting competition in the gas market. This is the final step in the legislative process.

"I am very happy that this important file has been adopted. We worked hard to find a compromise that would be acceptable to everyone, and I think we now have a good solution which will guarantee that we have a fair and competitive European gas market" - Anton Anton, Minister of Energy of Romania.

The overall objective of the amendment to the gas directive is to ensure that the rules governing the EU's internal gas market apply to gas transmission lines between a member state and a third country, up to the border of the member state's territory and territorial sea. Among the main elements of the EU gas market rules, which are set out in the so-called gas directive from 2009, are ownership unbundling, third-party access, non-discriminatory tariffs and transparency requirements.

The amendment adopted today provides for the possibility of derogations for existing pipelines to and from third countries, as well as clear procedures for negotiations with third countries and for exemptions regarding new pipelines.

Background and next steps

The amendment to the gas directive was proposed by the European Commission in November 2017. The Romanian Presidency of the Council reached an agreement on the file with the European Parliament on 12 February 2019. The European Parliament plenary voted in favour of the amendment on 4 April 2019.

Today's adoption by the Council is the last step in the legislative process. The new directive will enter into force 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union. Member states will have 9 months from entry into force to transpose the new rules into national law.