Transparency in energy deals up for discussion at EU summit

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Europe is upping the ante on transparency in energy contracts, with the bloc’s heads of state set to meet at a summit to discuss European Energy Union this week.

Member state chiefs will “agree in principle” on increasing transparency in the exchange of information on energy contracts, according to a diplomatic source.

The question of transparency in energy contracts was brought back into the European spotlight in February, when Hungary announced an agreement with Russia to modernise the country’s nuclear energy infrastructure. The agreement, drawn up in secret, includes a section on gas supplies, and a handsome rebate for Hungary.
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Brussels sees the deal as a threat to the EU’s energy security, an accusation formally rejected by Budapest.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbàƒ¡n believes Europe’s Energy Union plan threatens Hungary’s national sovereignty.

As part of the plans, the Commission hopes to gain the right to officially vet energy contracts concluded by member states with third countries, seeking “active participation” in gas negotiations in order to avoid “undue pressure or market distortions”.

The discussion will focus on specifying “which criteria will be used” to evaluate bilateral agreements, particularly in the gas sector, according to one diplomat.

The objective is to verify that contracts conform to European energy security law “as it exists today or may exist in the future” if new provisions are added related to energy security, the diplomat explained.

“A gas contract often forms part of a broader political or diplomatic operation,” the diplomat explained, without making explicit reference to Germany, Poland or Hungary.

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