EU’s Vice-President for the Energy Union Maros Sefcovic hosted the trilateral ministerial talks with Russia and Ukraine on the long-term transit of gas in Berlin yesterday (17 July). The meeting succeeded in establishing a trilateral process with Moscow and Kyiv and Mr. Sefcovic hailed it as a productive day. All sides agreed on the need to separate the old and the new issues and all sides will mandate their own experts on four issues: the EU’s gas needs, ways in which the EU law applied in Ukraine would impact on the future transit contract, certified transmission system operator and the tariffs.
The fundamental question lingering in the air is whether on 1 January 2020 there will be an agreement on the long-term transit of Russian gas to the bloc through Ukraine in a commercially viable way. The EU’s Sefcovic appreciated getting everyone at the table saying that “a trilateral process is the most effective platform to seek a satisfactory solution to the gas matters important for involved parties and to gas transit via Ukraine beyond 2019.”
The next meeting is scheduled in mid-September and Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak confirmed that the talks would continue. He also reiterated that Russian President Vladimir Putin was willing and ready to prolong a gas deal with Ukraine that expires on 31 December 2019, once all legal disputes were settled. Russia is the largest supplier of natural gas to the EU. While Russian exports have been on the rise since 2014, the EU’s leading importers, most notably Germany, France and Poland, have overall increased their dependency on Russia.