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UPDATE 1-EU executive demands new powers in gas crises
* EU executive to make new proposals on handling gas crises
* Draft says Commission to coordinate gas supplies
* States to share daily reports on economy and supply/demand
(Adds background, quote)
By Pete Harrison
BRUSSELS, June 17 (Reuters) - European Union countries should hand the European Commission powers to coordinate gas flows in the 27-member bloc in the event of a gas crisis, according to a draft Commission report.
The proposal is the EU's main policy response to the supply disruption that occurred in January following a pricing dispute between Russia and transit country Ukraine.
Tension between Moscow and Kiev has mounted in recent weeks and many energy experts forecast a repeat in coming months. [ID:nLH168706]
"In a European emergency, the Commission may require member states ... to release gas from strategic gas storage," said the draft report, seen by Reuters on Wednesday.
During such gas emergencies EU states would have to provide the Commission with daily updates of supply and demand forecasts for the following three days, with updates on withdrawals from stocks and the impact on their economies and power sectors.
EU states have asked the bloc's executive Commission for new rules to bolster energy security, but at the same time they have proved unwilling in recent negotiations to cede control of energy supplies.
Last week, EU energy ministers approved a similar proposal on oil stocks, having stripped it of its most important provisions -- a move that European Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said he deeply regretted.
EU states would also have to seek Commission approval before slowing gas flows to their neighbours during a crisis, as some countries were suspected of doing in January.
"The competent authority shall not introduce any measure restricting the flow of gas within the EU market at any time unless duly justified and authorised by the Commission," the draft said. The proposal, which will be fine-tuned and then put before member states and the European Parliament for approval in coming weeks, would also establish a permanent gas monitoring force composed of industry and Commission experts.
EU states would have to prepare national emergency plans, outlining the potential for cooperating with neighbouring countries and detailing different levels of alert.
"Increasing the security of gas supplies is something that was asked for by member states and parliament after the gas crisis, and we will have to wait to see how they react to this," said a Commission official. (Reporting by Pete Harrison; Editing by Dale Hudson)
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