The European Commission was completely surprised by Hungary’s announcement on Wednesday of an energy supply emergency. The Commission received no prior notification, even though there could be serious consequences because of it.
Kadri Simson, Commissioner for Energy in the European Commission, released a statement on the issue on Thursday:
Yesterday, Hungary announced the intention to introduce an energy emergency plan that would apparently include measures restricting the cross-border flows of gas and other energy carriers in the Single Market. Hungary has not notified the Commission of these planned measures. The Commission is in contact with the Hungarian authorities to better understand the emergency plan and to assess its implications for the neighboring Member States.
Simson’s statement also appeared to contain a rebuke of the Hungarian government’s announcement of the emergency and the resulting restrictions:
[A] declaration of a state of emergency and its resulting measures must be taken in the presence of a clear threat of supply interruptions and notified to the Commission under the Security of Supply regulation, to allow for proper information and coordination with neighbouring countries. Individual national restrictions affecting gas cross-border flows are unwarranted and can only exacerbate problems in the current gas market situation.
The statement additionally points out that EU Member States have solidarity obligations in such circumstances, meaning they are obliged to guarantee the security of supply for their neighbors.
444 notes that while the announcement of a new state of emergency undoubtedly sounds good for the government from a messaging perspective, the Government Information briefing held on Wednesday did not make the problem out to be that serious.