The sixth meeting of an informal V4 MEPs caucus took place on Tuesday 23 February 2016 in Brussels.
Two major events on the EU scene in mid-February – the EU-UK deal and presentation by the EU Commission of its Energy Security Package – were discussed by the V4 MEPs. Participants of the dinner included György Schöpflin(Hungary), Ivan Štefanec (Slovakia), Vladimír Maňka(Slovakia), Martina Dlabajová (Czech Republic), Olga Sehnalová (Czech Republic), and Tomáš Zdechovský (Czech Republic). Juraj Nociar, Head of Cabinet of Vice-President in charge of Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič, took part as a guest speaker.
The Energy Security Package presented on 16 February represents the Commission’s first major delivery on the way to the Energy Union. As one of the key priorities of Juncker Commission, the Energy Union has different connotations for various member states: for Western and Nordics countries, it means renewable energy and decarbonisation; while for the Visegrad region, it means mostly security of gas supply.
This draft regulation includes two legislative texts (the revised Regulation on Security of Supply and the Decision on Inter-Governmental Agreements) and two non-legislative texts (the Communications on the LNG and Storage Strategy and the Heating and Cooling Strategy).
From the V4 perspective, the revised regulation seeks to improve the EU’s energy security and resilience to gas supply disruptions by enhancing regional cooperation and solidarity principle. The bill introduces the mandatory obligation for the Member States to provide gas to protected consumers in a neighbouring State in case of a severe gas supply disruption crisis. This is especially relevant in light of the Nord Stream 2 dispute. Several V4 MEPs voiced concerns that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project is incompatible with the objectives of the Energy Union and detrimental to Ukraine.
The revised regulation is Commission’s proposal for the discussion with Member States and the European Parliament; the Slovak EU Presidency has an ambition to conclude the debate on this proposal by December 2016.
The LNG and storage strategy is seen as the crucial component in the effort to diversify the supply sources for vulnerable regions of the EU, such as Central and Eastern Europe. This Communication also identifies crucial interconnectors for each Member State to get LNG as an alternative fuel, and sets out the timeline of LNG reaching Central Europe (via financial and legislative framework).
Participants of the V4 MEPs dinner also assessed the results of the EU-UK negotiations and discussed the possible scenarios after the UK referendum on 23 June 2016. The V4 MEPs expressed their concern that we all have the stake in the results of the UK referendum: if voters decide to leave the EU, 3-4 years of renegotiations will follow. At the same time, even if the UK decides to stay in the EU, it might continue to be a difficult partner and disengage from the EU policy-making. At the same time, V4 MEPs expressed their concern that the UK deal could be used as a precedent for ‘special deals’ demanded by other EU leaders in the future.
Series of V4 MEPs informal meetings are jointly organized by the Central European Policy Institute (CEPI), demosEUROPA – Centre for European Strategy, and Aspen Institute Prague.