AggregateEU is the name of the demand aggregation and joint purchasing mechanism, operated by Prisma, the Service Provider, under the EU Energy Platform, in accordance with Council Regulation 2022/2576.
The objective of AggregateEU is to contribute to the security of supply (both in terms of volume and affordability), with a focus on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)..
AggregateEU has thus been designed to match buyers and seller, while a) ensuring equal treatment and b) preventing market manipulation.
AggregateEU and the joint purchasing mechanism are an important response to the lingering energy crisis.
AggregateEU is organising tendering rounds every two months since April 2023. An individual tender consists of demand submitted per month and location. Participating in an AggregateEU tendering round involves four steps:
- Demand aggregation and tendering
- Matching with potential buyers
- Contracting (outside the platform)
- Procurement transparency
On the demand side, companies established in the EU or in the Energy Community countries can take part in demand aggregation and joint the purchasing mechanism. They can participate either alone or by concluding an agreement with another buyer that submits their demand and negotiate for them (“central buyer” type of company cooperation – for more details see the section on Cooperation of Companies).
On the sellers side, both EU and non-EU companies can participate.
Companies shall be precluded from participating as sellers, producers or purchasers, if they fall into one of the categories listed under Art. 8 of Regulation 2022/2576 (targeted by the EU measures adopted in the view of Russia’s invasion on Ukraine).
They can only participate in AggregateEU as sellers, i.e. by submitting supply offers. They will not be able to submit gas demand.
AggregateEU offers a new opportunity to procure gas in addition to existing market places or practices. AggregateEU brings additional value to the market participants with demand aggregation, increased transparency and new forms of cooperation. This could bring particular benefit for, but not limited to, smaller companies or those in landlocked countries, which might benefit from demand aggregation – given the size of their demand or their lack of experience in contracting LNG.
Further, AggregateEU enables demand aggregation by individual companies or by groups of companies. This also facilitates the establishment of cooperation models such as central buyers and agents/shippers on behalf (for more details see the section on Cooperation of Companies).
AggregateEU is a no-regret option. Placing demand and being matched with the suppliers’ offers is technically straightforward, fully voluntary and cost free. Every company can walk away from the table at any stage of the process, including after seeing offers from suppliers.
No, subscribing to AggregateEU does not pose any obligation on an individual company. The obligation under the Council Regulation 2022/2576, to require natural gas undertakings to submit and aggregate demand equivalent to 15% of gas storage filling obligation, falls on Member States, not on companies. It is up to every Member State to decide how this obligation is implemented.
AggregateEU allows for the aggregation of demand for both, pipeline natural gas and LNG.
LNG is delivered in two areas (North West and South-East), and pipeline natural gas on national markets (26 points).
There is a legal requirement for Member States to submit a certain volume for demand aggregation. Member States are obliged to identify the national companies that will be aggregating their demand. It is up to Member States to define how they implement this obligation. Depending on Member States, the obligation to
participate in the demand aggregation process might be passed on their national gas companies, or the industrial consumers, or some municipalities or administration.
This volume must be equivalent to 15% of their obligation under Regulation (EU) 2017/1938 on gas storages.
The obligation to aggregate applies to all Member States with storage obligations, including those without gas storage facilities on their territories. It also applies to those having already contracted filling or filled their storage. Beyond this 15%, demand aggregation will be voluntary.
Whilst the provision refers to storage obligation when defining mandatory submission of demand for aggregation, gas purchased through AggregateEU may be destined for any use, not only storage.
No. The only mandatory element relates to the mandatory submission of demand (equivalent to 15% of storage obligation), but not to gas purchasing. It is for companies to negotiate and make a business decision to purchase gas via AggregateEU or not.
The gas purchased through demand aggregation and joint purchasing mechanism can be used for different purposes, depending on the needs of the buyer(s): the gas could be used for gas storage filling, or the volumes purchased can go to gas consumption in the EU or in the Energy Community countries.
Companies have to follow a two-step process to participate in AggregateEU. First, they need to register with PRISMA (see question below on Registration for more details). Second, they need to subscribe to AggregateEU (see question below on Subscription for more details).
Companies already registered on the PRISMA platform do not have to register again.
Companies that are not already registered on the PRISMA platform need to provide the information below:
- Company information – i.e. name, registered official address and country of registration
- Energy Identification Code (EIC) – mandatory for companies registered in the EU Energy Community and contracting party member states, with exemptions applicable. ( on EIC and on the way to obtain one).
In addition, the following documents have to be provided: power of attorney and commercial registry extract (only for the registration of the first user of a company).
Companies have to declare their ownership and control structures to be in compliance with Article 8 of the Regulation 2022/2576 and this will be subject to checks.
Companies need to indicate:
- Whether they are buyer, seller or both (noting that a company cannot have both roles in the same tender)
- The location where they would like to buy and/or sell natural gas (indicative information)
- Financial Securities: interested buyers and sellers will have to indicate which financial security(ies) will be made available to the potential counterparty(ies)
In addition, applicant must submit a declaration of honour, assuring the fulfilment of the requirements introduced by Council Regulation (EU) 2022/2576 – i.e. no affiliation to Russian entities.
The reference to the ‘agent’ does not imply any obligation to provide “Agent on Behalf” or “Central Buyer” services, because these are services provided outside the AggregateEU platform. Only those companies who have expressly indicated their will to provide these services by responding to the call for expression of interest launched by PRISMA are included in the list published on PRISMA´s website.
Some countries do not allow/need QES. Should your company be based in a country that does not have a QES system or similar, please contact PRISMA directly.
There is a volume threshold for companies to be able to submit monthly demand:
- equal or higher than 5,000 MWhat Virtual Trading Point (VTP);
- equal or higher than 300,000 MWh at the European Virtual LNG (Virtual LNG refers to “on-ship” LNG available for delivery (ex-ship) to any of the terminals in the respective areas (i.e. North-west or South-East).
Companies that plan to submit a volume equivalent or above these thresholds are invited to register and subscribe to AggregateEU. Companies that are not able to reach these thresholds should consider using the services of a Central Buyer (see section below on Cooperation for Companies for more details).
Potential buyers and sellers have to provide information about the financial collaterals available for the procurement of natural gas.
These include options such as: cash collateral, letter of credit, bank guarantee, parent company guarantee, stand-by letter of credit, bonds & debt security, open to use a broker, open to use a clearing house, credit rating (only bbb- or above under S&P and Fitch Rating, baa3 for Moody).
This information will be subsequently provided to the potential counterparty(/ies) in case of positive matching. Buyers and sellers will exchange documents providing proof of these guarantees outside the platform during the contracting phase.
Companies that are not in possession of any financial collaterals are strongly encouraged to obtain such instruments.
There is information on PRISMA website regarding international financial institutions/banks available to support buyers.
It is the responsibility of each participant in AggregateEU to secure financial collaterals (e.g. stand-by letter of credit, parent company guarantee, credit rating).
Companies that are not in possession of any financial collaterals are strongly encouraged to obtain such instruments. The Commission also encourages companies to provide feedback should they encounter difficulties in obtaining these products.
Since the service of demand aggregation and joint purchasing mechanism is preliminary established for a duration of one year, companies can register at any point in time before the last cut-off date in 2023 (fourth quarter).
Yes, but entities that register both as buyer and supplier can only have one role per tender – i.e. they cannot participate as both, buyer and supplier, in the same tender.
The registration and subscription to AggregateEU is done at the level of the legal entity (i.e. different legal entities can each register separately).
This means that a single legal entity will not be able to participate as both buyer and seller in the same tender. This restriction also applies to two or more legal entities within the same industrial holding or corporate group, meaning that they will only be able to participate in the same tender as long as they act in the same role (i.e. as buyers or sellers).
For each tendering round, PRISMA, the service provider, publishes the aggregated demand and organises tenders to attract supply offers. The most competitive offers are then matched with demand.
The various tasks of PRISMA consist of
- Verify, accredit and register users
- Collection of demand requests by buyers
- Aggregate demand of natural gas companies / companies consuming gas
- Seek offers from natural gas suppliers or producers
- Match the aggregate demand with the support of the Joint Purchasing IT tool, and allocate access rights to supply
No, there is no fee associated with the Service Provider.
The plan is to have a series of tenders on a rolling basis – i.e. every two months.
Participation in AggregateEU is by definition voluntary. There is thus no obligation to participate in all tenders – especially if a company has successfully contracted the amount of gas it needed.
Yes: a monthly flat wholesale product. Either Virtual LNG, with two delivery areas (North West Europe and South East Europe) or Virtual Trading Points / National Balancing Points.
The unit used is energy unit (MWh) and the period is monthly, on a rolling basis.
More information can be found on the following pages:
For each location and for each period a potential buyer can submit up to one demand for himself as well as one for the group of companies for which it is acting a central buyer.
The potential buyer can change/withdraw its demand while this phase is still open.
When submitting demand, the buyers need to specify, at least, parameters such as:
- Gas quantity expressed as energy i.e. MWh,
- Delivery period,
- Delivery point.
The submitted value of demand must be equal or higher than 5.000 MWh for National Balancing Points and 300.000 MWh at the European Virtual LNG.
Demand submission on the platform occurs on a legal entity basis. Companies from the same group can submit demand separately in case they are different legal entities and fulfil the minimum demand per product.
In case individual companies within a group cannot reach the minimum demand, they can aggregate demand either through an external Central Buyer or through any other company of the group acting de facto as a Central Buyer.
For every tender, a buyer can choose the quantity of gas demand to be submitted and the location for such gas to be delivered. For every single month, a buyer can submit demand in as many locations as needed as long as the submitted demand reflects the demand for the requested locations, and does not lead to a submission of the same demand for several alternative locations.
If a company is active in several Member States through affiliates with different legal personality, these affiliates can also subscribe to AggregateEU and submit their demand in the VTP they need. The overall demand placed in several VTPs and/or LNG market areas by affiliated entities can be taken into account in negotiations with suppliers. AggregateEU does not aggregate such demand of a given entity under a single tender.
The potential buyer can submit demand up to March 2025 – starting two months after the submission of demand has taken place. As an illustration: if the submission of demand takes place in June 2023, the monthly demand to be submitted on AggregateEU can potentially span from August 2023 to March 2025.
There are 5 governing principles, underpinning the matching algorithm:
- Every tender is independent
- The matching is non-discriminatory towards potential buyers – i.e. every potential buyer shall be treated equally and have the same quality of matching (i.e. equal access to best prices)
- The algorithm shall minimise the costs of the potential buyers bidding in one tender
- The sellers’ offers are ranked from the lowest to the highest price
- In case of over-demand or over-supply, the pro-rata is always applied to guarantee the lowest avg. price per tender
The way the matching algorithm works is by giving preference to the most competitive supply bids. The latter will be ranked depending on the prices offered by suppliers and will be allocated on a pro-rata basis among buyers in order to ensure them the same weighted average price.
For each bid, a potential seller has to indicate:
- the quantity the seller is willing to sell
- the price at which the seller would like to sell the gas
For LNG, the seller also has the possibility to indicate specific terminal(s) for the delivery.
A seller can only submit one bid per tender and can edit its bid(s) until the bidding window is closed.
Once the demand is aggregated, the Service Provider drafts an information sheet based on the information received from the buyers. This information sheet represents a set of common simple requirements that will have to be met by the suppliers. Any additional requirements will be part of the contractual negotiations outside AggregateEU, once the demand is matched.
Yes. The minimum quantities to submit by a seller in a given tender is equal to the minimum quantity of demand to be submitted by the buyers.
AggregateEU provides the following information to potential buyers for each tender:
- General information to contact the seller
- Quantities allocated to the seller(s)
For Virtual LNG, information regarding the identity of other companies that submitted demand is also shared, as well as preferences in terms of destination terminal highlighting terminals selected by both sides as preferred (when provided). This is to facilitate possible cooperation and coordination logistics-wise.
AggregateEU provides the following information to potential seller(s) for each tender:
- general information to contact the buyer(s)
- quantity allocated to the buyer(s)
- financial securities provided by the buyer(s)
For Virtual LNG and when provided, preferences in terms of destination terminal and information on coinciding preferences of the buyers. This is to facilitate possible cooperation and coordination logistics-wise.
In case of undersupply, there will be a pro-rata distribution, and the unmatched volume of demand will need to be re-introduced in the next tender.
No, sellers are only able to see their own offers.
No, the matching is not binding. After the matching, the companies will start negotiating outside AggregateEU.
Offers from suppliers are indicative and should be the starting point for negotiations. PRISMA and DG Energy will be monitoring whether participants act in good faith or try to manipulate AggregateEU (as buyers will be reporting on the quality of the contracts or the reasons for their non-conclusion). According to the Terms and Conditions of AggregateEU, participants that show a manipulative behaviour will be excluded from participating in AggregateEU.
Depending on the tender, it is either a national balancing or virtual trading point (pipeline gas) or ex-ship at the discharge LNG terminal (LNG).
Yes, it is possible for both buyers and sellers to indicate (a) specific preferred LNG terminal(s). The full list of LNG terminals considered in AggregateEU can be found under the AggregateEU page “What is LNG?”
When buyers and sellers indicate their preference for (a) specific LNG terminal(s), the matching results will highlight the matches where the LNG terminal preference coincide.
Potential buyers are fully responsible for transportation and, in case needed, regasification and storage of the procured gas quantities.
Buyers are responsible for the transport of the gas at the point where they take title of it. They can arrange this by themselves or through the procurement of services from a third-party that would be responsible for the shipping, balancing, and other ancillary services related to the purchase of gas.
A request for Expression of Interest can be found on the PRISMA webpage for companies interested to offer these services.
These decisions can be made between the buyer and seller outside Aggregate-EU. If needed, buyers can also use an Agent on Behalf, who can take care of these services.
It will depend on market, in particular demand and supply. Generally, larger volumes such as those aggregated via AggregateEU can help to negotiate lower prices.
The price offered by AggregateEU is the same weighted average price to all buyers in a same tender. Final prices will be negotiated bilaterally among buyers and sellers outside the platform.
In order to achieve a degree of homogeneity, comparability and above all the necessary liquidity of future-months financial products, all bids for all products (LNG and NBPs) and delivery points are to be expressed in reference to TTF. This TTF-indexation serves only i) to rank bids (in order to give priority to those most competitive in terms of price) and to ii) open the discussions with potential buyers. The final purchase contract can refer to any other hub price or a fixed sum –i.e. whatever the parties can agree on.
AggregateEU uses the TTF month-ahead for the indexation, but buyers and sellers remain free to use other formulas in their contracts.
No, and for several reasons:
- The demand put on Aggregate-EU is existing demand, not additional demand. Such existing demand should therefore not inflate gas prices, notably because the market participants are now aware of how AggregateEU is functioning and of the 15% obligation.
- Participants will only pay the price they agreed during negotiations. If prices proposed by sellers are too high, buyers have the option not to purchase as they are not obliged to do it.
- The mechanism is designed to propose the lowest possible average price, because it gives preference to those bids with the most competitive prices.
The buyer and the seller negotiate contracts. Negotiations are outside AggregateEU and the remit of the Service Provider. The Service Provider is only a demand aggregation, tendering and matching solution.
Whilst this would be beneficial, AggregateEU has not been designed to limit matches only to companies that already have master/frameworks contracts in place, but on the contrary, it has been designed to open up new possibilities, in particular by matching companies with potential new business partners.
For LNG, sellers and buyers may use their own contracts. For pipeline gas, the EFET standard contract could be used. In both cases, it is up to the parties to decide which contractual model they will use.
There is no obligation to have a successful negotiation. Negotiations could fall apart for various reasons (including the fact that the market price has moved since the end of the tender). In any case, buyers will give DG Energy feedback on why they did not reach an agreement.
The focus of AggregateEU is to support the filling of storages and ensure security of supply. Demand aggregation and joint purchasing can be used for procurement of gas for any purposes, be it for storage filling or supplies to customers. AggregateEU will cover demand until March 2025.
The negotiating parties can agree to extend or negotiate a contract longer than 12 months.
AggregateEU does not interfere with existing contracts and obligations, as this is outside of the scope of the platform.
No. The negotiations and conclusions of contracts is outside the scope of AggregateEU and the remit of the Service Provider. As for all contracts, it is for the relevant market participants to provide the relevant information to ACER under REMIT. This is not the Service Provider’s responsibility.
Yes, companies need to comply with the relevant reporting obligations in accordance with existing regulations.
Yes. Given the negotiations of contracts happen outside AggregateEU, buyers are therefore obliged to notify the potential conclusion of contract, if the volume is superior to 5 TWh per year (for more information see section below on Transparency).
Yes. The notification obligation applies to all contracts – whether the gas is purchased through or outside AggregateEU – if the volume is superior to 5 TWh per year.
Article 3 of Council Regulation (EU) 2022/2576 lays out transparency provisions in order to ensure better coordination and energy solidarity among Member States.
The Regulation places an obligation on natural gas undertakings, undertaking consuming gas established in the Union, or authorities of Member States, to inform the Commission of their intention to launch a tender to purchase gas or open negotiations with suppliers or producers from third countries for the purchase of gas. The volume foreseen in the planned agreement must be above 5TWh/year to be reported.
Information shall be shared with the Commission at least six weeks before the conclusion of such binding agreements (or no later than two weeks before the intended conclusion or launch if the negotiations are opened closer to the date of signing the contract). The Commission will ensure adequate handling of the notified information.
Based on this information, the Commission may issue recommendations if it considers that:
- further coordination with regards to the launch of a tender or planned gas purchases is needed to improve the functioning of the joint purchasing, or
- the launch of a tender or planned gas purchases may have a negative impact on the internal market, on security of supply or on energy solidarity
Before issuing any such recommendation, the Commission will inform the ad hoc Steering Board (as per Articles 3 and 4 of the Council Regulation 2022/2576).
Companies and authorities in the Member States are invited to contact the dedicated functional mailbox ENER-PLATFORM-TRANSPARENCYec [dot] europa [dot] eu (ENER-PLATFORM-TRANSPARENCY[at]ec[dot]europa[dot]eu) in order to get further details on how to implement this reporting obligation.
Art. 3 of Regulation 2022/2576 is applicable to:
- EU undertakings intending to launch a gas tender both with third countries as well as intra-EU;
- EU undertakings soon to conclude negotiations of gas purchase with suppliers based outside of the EU.
The trigger for the notification should be the intention to conclude a contract or launch a tender. The undertaking should notify the Commission at least six weeks before the conclusion of the contract or the launch of tender. The intention should be understood objectively i.e. the negotiations or other conditions for concluding the contract are already in place and the likelihood of concluding the contract is high.
If the negotiations are moving fast, the undertaking may notify within a shorter deadline, i.e. up to two weeks before the envisaged signature of the contract.
The obligation to notify is valid even in the case that the deadline is missed.
Yes, as stated in Article 3 and the Definitions of Article 2 in Regulation 2022/2576, LNG is also covered.
The obligation to notify under Article 3 applies to contracts, which are negotiated following the aggregation and matching of demand via AggregateEU. The notification shall be given at least six weeks before the intended conclusion or within a shorter period provided that the negotiations are opened closer to the date of signing of the contract.
Yes. Recital 14 of Regulation 2022/2576 specifically mentions ‘new or renewed contracts’.
The Regulation also applies to amendments to the contracts, if these amendments relate to the elements of the contract that have to be reported.
Yes. FOB contracts are also subject to the notification obligation. Art 3 specifies that it covers negotiations between an EU-established undertakings and an undertaking established in a third country. The provision does not take into account other terms of sale.
The Commission assesses this on a case-by-case basis. As the transparency obligation is about coordination, it depends on how many transactions are foreseen at a given moment in time. But confidentiality is safeguarded at all times.
The ad hoc Steering Board is a forum for enhanced coordination at Union level, with the aim of facilitating the coordination of demand aggregation and the functioning of the joint purchasing mechanism.
The ad hoc Steering Board will assist the Commission on draft recommendation(s) in assessing the impact of planned gas tenders/contracts on:
- the functioning of joint purchasing mechanism;
- the internal market, on security of supply or on energy solidarity;
The first phase of implementing the EU energy Platform will serve as a learning process for the potential implementation of the demand aggregation mechanism for renewable hydrogen in the future. This is in line with the Commission communication of 18 May 2022 entitled ‘REPowerEU plan’, setting up an EU Energy Platform together with Member States for the common purchase of gas, liquified natural gas (LNG) and hydrogen.
No. Regulation 2022/2576 refers to the possibility for EU companies to form consortia to be able to sign contracts with suppliers that will respond to the tenders organised by the Service Provider. In this sense the consortia are not mandatory but may facilitate the signature of contracts that follow from demand aggregation.
Cooperating with other companies may be a solution for buyers that:
- would like submit demand that is lower than the minimum volume foreseen for a given tender,
- do not have expertise in negotiating gas purchase contracts,
- do not have necessary transmission, LNG or storage capacities (e.g. buyers located in landlocked countries).
There is no minimum quantity - the terms and conditions will be defined by the central buyer.
Establishing consortia is an option foreseen in Regulation 2022/2576 for gas buyers to pursue according to their best knowledge of the market.
Following discussions with gas companies and with industrial customers, the Commission has envisaged two types of cooperation between buyers aimed at high efficiency when jointly purchasing gas. These two types of cooperation are referred to as “central buyer” and “agent/shipper on behalf”. See the details below. Companies can voluntarily agree to enter either company cooperation model, always within the limits of the EU competition rules
The reason is that various practices may already exist, developed by the industry, offering services similar to the Agent on behalf or Central Buyer. What matters for the Commission is that several principles are observed, including with regard to exchanges of information between the companies offering the services and their individual customers (see ).
The GTCs refer to the Central Buyer because the Central Buyer needs to enter into relations with Prisma AggregateEU, while the Agent on behalf does not. The Agent on behalf offers services to the companies subscribed to AggregateEU and acts on their behalf, but it does not offer demand aggregation and tendering services as such. AggregateEU is only advertising the services of Agent on behalf, following the call of expression of interest.
The Commission stands ready to assist companies further in developing the contractual relations with their clients when it comes to the Agent-on-behalf or Central Buyer services. In particular, the interested companies may provide the Commission with a list of information they need to exchange with the buyers of gas in order to allow those to effectively provide the Agent on behalf or Central Buyers services. Such a list of information will enable the Commission to assess its compliance with competition rules and, if necessary, provide more detailed guidance. Likewise, the Commission stands ready to advise on the arrangements needed regarding the treatment of commercially sensitive information.
As stressed in the Council Regulation 2022/2576, “the pass-through of lower prices would be an important indicator for the success of joint purchasing mechanism, as it is crucial for consumers”. The Commission therefore calls upon the companies offering the service of the Central Buyer to charge the buyers in proportion to the services they offer but pass-on the costs of commodity itself. For example, this means that companies offering the service of Central Buyer e.g. negotiating the GSPA, signing the GSPA, shipping gas from the LNG ship to the point of consumption, should charge only costs related to the negotiations, the signing of the GSPA and related risks and transport of gas e.g. bookings of capacities of pipelines, regasification, storage etc., but not increasing the price of gas. The exact prices for the services of Central Buyer should be established in a contract between the buyers and the companies offering the Central Buyer services, prior to the signature of the GSPA. This should be the difference to the normal practice of buying and selling of gas in which some companies derive revenues from the price difference between buying gas and selling gas. The issue is less relevant for the Agent-on-Behalf services, because Agents of behalf do not sign the GSPA, it is the buyer that does it. The Agent-on-behalf offers only services for which it will charge separate prices established in a contract between the buyer and the Agent-on-behalf, prior to the GSPA being signed e.g. transportation services.
Some downstream gas companies or industrial consumers (such as ceramics, fertilisers, and aluminium industries) may not have sufficient demand, expertise or credit worthiness to buy enough gas on their own. In this case, they could ask other entities (likely larger gas companies) to act on their behalf as a Central Buyer, which would purchase gas for them. Each gas company and industrial consumer would sign a contract with a Central Buyer.
In terms of timing of the formation of contractual relations between a central buyer its group of buyers, there are two alternatives:
- bringing a group of buyers to the AggregateEU platform: The central buyer can register and place the aggregated demand on the AggregateEU platform on behalf of the buyers. In this case, individual buyers do not have to register on the AggregateEU platform.
- on the AggregateEU platform: companies interested in providing services to other buyers as central buyers are listed on the AggregateEU platform following a call for expression of interest organised by Prisma. Buyers registering on the AggregateEU platform, interested in these services, need to contact one of the central buyers and enter into a contractual relationship with it, preferably before placing demand on the platform
As a next step, after the tender has taken place, the Central Buyer would enter into negotiations and sign gas sale and purchase agreements (GSPAs) with upstream gas suppliers in order to match the volume, profile and timing of the aggregated gas demand of its customers.
Companies participating in this model can join the platform - where their demand is aggregated - and they participate in tenders using the AggregateEU platform.
They negotiate and sign individual contracts with suppliers following matching on the AggregateEU platform. Under this model, companies entrust another company, likely a mid-streamer, to act as an agent providing services which could include for example reservation of a slot on an LNG terminal, transport from a ship to the point of consumption, or balancing services. Companies may contract an agent/shipper on behalf either outside/before or after the tender, with or without the involvement of the AggregateEU platform. Companies interested in providing services to other buyers as agents/shippers on behalf are listed on the AggregateEU platform.
Company cooperation frameworks using the joint purchasing mechanism must be compliant with the EU competition rules. The Commission has issued extensive guidance to assist companies in this process, such as the Guidelines for the assessment of horizontal cooperation agreements (currently under review) and the Guidelines on Vertical Restraints.
In the context of the implementation of the emergency regulation, the Commission stands ready to assist companies willing to use the joint purchasing mechanism to ensure compliance with competition rules of their joint purchasing arrangements. Namely, the Commission stands ready to assist interested companies and their legal counsels through informal guidance, including a guidance letter under the Commission Notice on informal guidance relating to novel or unresolved questions concerning Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union that arise in individual cases (“Notice on Informal Guidance”) based on a reasoned request pursuant to paragraphs 10 to 12 of the Notice on Informal Guidance.
The only requirements a company needs to fulfil are: i) fulfil the general conditions to be a buyer, ii) be able to provide Central Buyer services as described in the PRISMA website. The Central Buyer should comply with competition law principles when performing its functions, which can be found under the AggregateEU page .
Competition rules apply to information exchanges taking place in the framework of the joint purchasing mechanism.
Commercially sensitive information should only be exchanged bilaterally between the agent/shipper on behalf or the central buyer, on the one hand, and their respective individual customers, on the other hand. These bilateral exchanges should be limited to what is necessary for the purposes of negotiating and implementing the respective gas purchase agreements.
Commercially sensitive information exchanged in this context can be considered necessary if the companies concerned can explain how it relates to the agreement they are negotiating, why it needs to be exchanged and why it would be proportionate to the objective of the agreement. Moreover, if the agent/shipper on behalf or the central buyer are operating in the same market as one of their customers, they need to make sure that access to commercially sensitive information obtained from their customers for the purposes of carrying out their purchasing function is limited to staff dedicated to this function, and that such information is not shared with other staff within the company (see: and the Guidelines on Vertical Restraints para. 103).
The Commission stands ready to assist interested companies and their legal counsels through informal guidance.
In case of a Central Buyer, the negotiations and the signing of the contract occur between the Central Buyer and the gas suppliers. In case of an Agent-on-behalf, the signing of the contract occurs between every single individual buyer and the gas suppliers. The liability regime therefore depends on the model pursued and the parties entering into the contract.
In case of Central Buyer, there are two different liabilities: the one stemming from the contractual relationship between the Central Buyer and buyers (if there is more than one buyer, liability can be joint and several, although this will depend on negotiations); and the one arising from the contracts signed between the Central Buyer and the gas supplier.
In the case of Agent on Behalf, there is a contractual relation between the Agent on Behalf and the buyer purchasing its services; and another one between the buyers and the gas suppliers.
It is up to Central Buyer and Agent on Behalf to make sure that the payments and supply are made. Generally, the Central Buyer / Agent on Behalf will have bilateral contracts with the respective buyers and will have asked for their own guarantee, then it will be up to the Central Buyer / Agent on Behalf and supplier to negotiate whether their guarantee is enough or not. However this happens outside the Platform
A non-EU company can only participate as a supplier or an Agent on behalf. A non-EU company cannot participate as a Central Buyer.
Should a non-EU company offer its services as Agent on Behalf, it will need to comply with the principles/requirements that can be found under the AggregateEU website (). This means that a non-EU company wishing to offer its services as Agent on Behalf should be open to offer such services to other buyers, not just its affiliates.
- The Central Buyer and the companies aggregating demand through the Central Buyer should limit their bilateral exchanges of commercially sensitive information to what is strictly necessary for the purposes of carrying out the functions of the Central Buyer and Agent on Behalf.
- Commercially sensitive information shared by the companies aggregating demand through the Central Buyer with that company (i) should only be available to the Central Buyer team dealing with the purchase of gas and (ii) should not be shared / spread within the organisation outside that restricted number of people, in particular it should not be shared with personnel dealing with competing activities in the downstream gas selling market. It is for the Central Buyer to put in place safeguards to ensure compliance with these principles.
The Agent on Behalf will not see this information, it is for companies seeking such services to contact them. In addition, the Agent on Behalf list on PRISMA is not exhaustive, companies not listed there can also provide such services.
No. AggregateEU has published a list with companies offering Central Buyer services to act on behalf of those companies that cannot negotiate and sign contracts by themselves. AggregateEU does not include exchanges offering clearing house services.