In response to the global energy market disruptions caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the EU adopted the REPowerEU Plan to save energy, produce clean energy and diversify its energy supplies with a view to increase Europe’s strategic resilience and make it less dependent on Russian gas imports.
At the request of the European Council and in line with REPowerEU, the Commission launched the EU Energy Platform in April 2022. It has 3 objectives
- demand aggregation and joint purchasing of gas
- most efficient use of existing infrastructure
- international outreach
The EU Energy Platform aims at coordinating EU action on global markets to prevent EU countries from outbidding each other, whilst leveraging our political and market weight to effectively diversify supplies, introduce direct competition between the world’s largest suppliers and achieve better conditions for all EU consumers. It covers a range of actions regarding natural gas and LNG (and in the future hydrogen) to support the EU’s security of supply and access to affordable energy, including international outreach, demand aggregation, and efficient use of EU gas infrastructures.
To date, the EU Energy Platform has played a key role in diversifying supplies, increasing efficiency of infrastructure use, and negotiating with reliable international partners.
- 3 October 2023
Third tender for joint gas purchases
- 21 September 2023
Third call for joint gas purchases
- 7 July 2023
Launch of second tender for joint gas purchases
- 26 June 2023
Launch of the second call for joint gas purchases
- 10 May 2023
Launch of first tender for joint gas purchases
- 19 December 2022
Adoption of Council Regulation (EU) 2022/2576
- 20 October 2022
- 7 April 2022
Since the start of the war, the situation in the gas market has progressively deteriorated. Russia’s weaponisation of gas supply to Europe tightened the market and led to a dramatic increase in gas prices. The wholesale price in 2022 was on average over 5 times higher than its pre-crisis level, even spiking above 300€/MWh at the height of the crisis in summer 2022.
This is why, on 19 December 2022, the Council adopted an emergency Regulation to enhance solidarity through better coordination of gas purchases, reliable price benchmarks and exchanges of gas across borders (EU/2022/2576). This instrument was requested by the European Council in the midst of the energy crisis, as part of the EU’s efforts to improve security of supply and phase out our supplies of Russian gas as soon as possible.
In 2022, the EU Energy Platform was key to the EU’s diversification efforts, facilitating the signature of Memoranda of Understanding with main gas exporting partner countries, such as for example the US, Azerbaijan, Egypt and Norway, and enhancing international outreach to support the REPowerEU Plan.
In 2023, the focus has been on organising demand aggregation and joint purchasing of gas for gas storage ahead of the winter 2023-2024 season. In a record time, and thanks to the close cooperation between the Commission, EU countries and the industry, the Commission was able to put in place an instrument that reinforces security of supply and takes into account the needs of market operators in the EU.
The EU Energy Platform plays a key role in pooling gas demand, coordinating infrastructure use, negotiating with international partners and preparing for joint gas and hydrogen purchases.
The short video explains more and is available to view or download with subtitles in 22 EU languages.
AggregateEU, is the Commission flagship initiative under the EU Energy Platform, to implement demand aggregation and support more coordinated purchase of natural gas at European level. It is operated by the service provider, Prisma European Capacity Platform GmbH.
AggregateEU’s objective is to contribute to sufficient and diversified gas supplies for the winter 2023/2024 in EU countries and Energy Community Contracting Parties.
Further, AggregateEU aims at reducing price volatility and increasing predictability, by providing information on available energy supplies, whilst harnessing Europe's collective market weight. It offers an alternative channel to match gas demand and supply, whilst increasing transparency and offering new forms of cooperation.
Tendering rounds have been organised since April 2023. The first were held in May and June/July, covering 26 delivery points and 2 LNG virtual points (North-West, and South-East); for these two rounds, 91 buyers expressed demand of 27.5 billion cubic metres of gas and 85 were partially or entirely matched.
Two more tendering rounds are scheduled before the end of 2023.
AggregateEU – how does it work
AggregateEU pools gas demand from EU and Energy Community companies and matches this demand with competitive supply offers. Following the matching of demand with supply, companies can voluntarily conclude purchasing contracts with gas suppliers, either individually or jointly.
Company cooperation is particularly beneficial for smaller companies and companies from landlocked countries with less global outreach or negotiating power.
Whilst purchasing contracts between companies and gas suppliers remain voluntary, and outside AggregateEU, EU countries must aggregate gas demand equivalent to 15% of their storage filling obligations, representing around 13.5 billion cubic metres of gas per year. Beyond the 15%, the aggregation is voluntary, but based on the same mechanism.
How to participate in AggregateEU?
Gas companies and gas-consuming companies can register and subscribe to the AggregateEU services throughout the year. More information on the registration and subscription is available in the detailed 'Questions and Answers’ section.
It is important to note that a company can participate either as a seller or as a buyer in any single tender at AggregateEU, but not both.
Expression of interest
As some companies may not
- have sufficient demand to be submitted on AggregateEU (the minimum quantity required for demand aggregation for virtual liquefied natural gas (LNG) is 300.000 MWh and for National Balancing Point/Virtual Trading Point (NVP/BPT) it is 5.000 MWh)
- have the necessary capabilities or expertise to transport gas or perform negotiations
- benefit from a high creditworthiness to buy enough gas on their own,
PRISMA launched a call for expression of interest on 22 March 2023, open to all companies to offer services in 2 models of cooperation:
- Agent-on-behalf in which buyers entrust another company, 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
- Central Buyers in which buyers ask other companies to act on their behalf as a Central Buyer and purchase gas for them
The call is still open.
Companies interested in offering their services need to follow some principles to be in line with the EU legislation, in particular the provisions of Regulation (EU) 2022/2576 and competition rules.
Commercially sensitive information should only be exchanged bilaterally between the companies offering the services and their individual customers, and this bilateral exchange should be limited to what is necessary for the purposes of negotiating and implementing the respective 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.
If the companies offering the service as Agent-on-behalf and Central Buyer are operating in the same market as one of its customers, they need to make sure that access to commercially sensitive information obtained from its customers for the purposes of carrying out its function is limited to staff dedicated to this function, and that such information is not shared with other staff within the company.
The Commission stands ready to assist interested companies 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 (guidance letters) 2022/C 381/07 and based on a reasoned request pursuant to paragraphs 10 to 12 of said Notice.
The companies offering the services of Central Buyer should pass on the benefits deriving from the negotiation of the aggregated demand. Therefore, the Central Buyer should not derive rents on the commodity of gas procured through AggregateEU vis-à-vis buyers in its group. The Central Buyer could earn rent for ancillary services.
The gas demand for which a Central Buyer is procuring gas as part of AggregateEU should be submitted to AggregateEU, even if it was aggregated outside said mechanism. A confirmatory step will be introduced before the tenders are published to confirm the aggregated demand that is to be tendered.
Should any company offering Central Buyer or Agent-on-behalf services under AggregateEU have any doubt on how to implement the abovementioned principles with an already pre-defined group of buyers, ad-hoc guidance can be provided in order to fulfil EU legislation and EU competition rules. Please write to the following address in order to seek further guidance: EU-ENERGY-PLATFORM@ec.europa.eu
To set up the joint purchasing mechanism, EU countries and industrial players from the EU and the Energy Community have been gathering forces in different fora to provide their expertise and advice to the Commission.
They have been doing so through the EU Energy Platform ad hoc Steering Board, the Regional Groups and an Industry Advisory Group.
The ad hoc Steering Board consists of representatives of the Commission, all EU countries and representatives of the Energy Community Contracting Parties. They will help to assess whether or not gas purchases strengthen security of supply and respect the principle of solidarity. It was established on 13 January 2023 and its first meeting took place on 16 January, chaired by Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič. The second meeting took place on 2 March 2023 and in the press remarks that followed the meeting, Vice-President Šefčovič took stock of the progress made with the EU Energy Platform and presented the next steps.
Five regional groups have been set up to identify the needs, opportunities for common use of infrastructure and potential new suppliers. The latter gathers EU countries and Energy Community representatives per region in order to consider infrastructure and market dynamics.
The regional groups are
- South East Europe: Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Serbia, North Macedonia, Moldova and Ukraine
- Central and Eastern Europe: Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, Germany, Hungary, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Italy, Moldova and Ukraine
- South West Europe: France, Spain, Italy and Portugal (Malta and Germany as observers)
- North West Europe: France, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Ireland
- Baltics and Finland: Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland (Poland as Observer)
The regional groups agree on action plans on gas demand, including potential gas demand reduction, infrastructure opportunities and supply options. They also discuss the potential of joint purchasing in each region and meet regularly in order to closely monitor the implementation of the actions and objectives set forth in their action plans.
Following the finalisation of the Action Plans of all regional groups, discussions on the potential of joint purchasing in each region are the main focus. On 7 March 2023, a workshop with the Regional Groups and industry players was organised to provide more details on the process of demand aggregation and joint purchasing developed by the service provider (PRISMA) and the Commission. PRISMA covered the key objectives and principles guiding the processes of registration, demand aggregation, joint tendering, matching and reporting. The workshop recording is available on YouTube.
A series of Regional Group meetings will take place 6-8 June 2023 targeting energy-intensive industries and gas consuming companies. They will collect feedback in view of the second round of AggregateEU tendering and provide updates on company cooperation.
The Industry Advisory Group is an informal expert group made up of 27 EU companies and 11 observers with experience in buying gas on global markets. It brings to the table non-binding advice and an industrial perspective on demand aggregation and joint purchasing. The group aims at providing
- feedback and comments on options issued by the Commission for natural gas, LNG (and, in the future, hydrogen) demand aggregation and joint purchasing
- insights and advice on how to ensure that the EU’s goal to reduce its dependency on gas supplies from Russia can be achieved in line with the timeline provided by the REPowerEU Communication from 8 March, with a particular focus on the diversification of gas supply
- information to support outreach activities
The members of the group were confirmed shortly after the end of a call for applications published on 6 September 2022. Their first meeting took place on 26 October 2022, and since then it meets regularly to closely monitor the implementation of demand aggregation and joint purchasing.
A call for expression of interest to join a sub-group of the Industry Advisory Group was published on 20 July 2023. The aim of the sub-group is to gather feedback on AggregateEU from gas-consuming industries procuring gas for their own use, and associations such as gas consumers.
Transparency and information exchange
Article 3 of Regulation (EU) 2022/2576 provides the Commission with the possibility of issuing recommendations on how to better coordinate purchases of gas in the EU. These recommendations can propose measures to avoid a potential negative impact of gas purchases by companies and authorities on joint purchasing of gas and on security of supply, energy solidarity and the internal market.
The basis for these recommendations is the notification of companies or authorities of EU countries about the intention to launch a tender to purchase gas or conclude negotiations with natural gas producers or suppliers from third countries on the purchase of gas of a volume above 5 TWh/year.
Our short guideline describes how to notify the Commission of this transparency provision and the SECEM2 guide explains how to configure e-mail clients to enable encrypted exchanges with Commission services.
- Commission invites international suppliers to respond to first EU tender for 11.6bcm of joint gas purchases (10/05/2023)
- Commission launches first call for companies to jointly buy gas (25/4/2023)
- The first call for placing demand to buy gas opens on 25 April (18/04/2023)
- First high-level roundtable on joint gas purchasing (20/12/2022)
- Commission establishes Industry Advisory Group to support the EU Energy Platform (19/10/2022)
- Commission makes additional proposals to fight high energy prices and ensure security of supply (18/10/2022)
- Action Plan for the Regional Energy Platform for South-East Europe (02/06/2022)
- Launching the EU Energy Platform Task-Force (25/05/2022)
- Bulgaria sets up the first regional task-force as part of the EU energy platform (28/04/2022)
- Regulation (EU) 2022/2576 on enhancing solidarity through better coordination of gas purchases, exchanges of gas across borders and reliable price benchmarks
- Factsheet: EU Energy Platform - Joint gas purchasing to increase energy security for Europe (June 2023)
- AggregateEU – questions and answers
- Commission expert group portal – Industry Advisory Group (19/10/2022)
- Energy Emergency - preparing, purchasing and protecting the EU together: Communication (COM(2022) 553) | Factsheet
- REPowerEU Plan (COM(2022)230)
- REPowerEU: Joint European Action for more affordable, secure and sustainable energy (COM(2022)108)
- Energy Community