The European Union's Gas Coordination Group met recently in order to ensure that the EU can meet the demand for gas this winter, particularly in view of last year's challenges to the security of gas supply.

In view of the importance of Russian gas supplies transiting Ukraine, representatives from Ukraine and Russia also participated in the meeting, as well as representatives from other international institutions and international experts.

The Commission is keeping a close watch on developments having an impact on the security of our gas supply. In times of increasing dependence from external sources, the Gas Coordination Group has an important role to play in this respect, said EU energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs.

Although the group concluded that there is no immediate need for concern, it agreed that further vigilance is indispensable. Greater transparency in contractual relations between gas suppliers to Europe was urged in order to reinforce confidence in both Russia and the Ukraine as reliable partners in gas supply and transit to the EU.

The participants were confident that major supply problems can be avoided, although they said that difficulties in the supply-demand situation cannot be ruled out in the event of an extremely cold winter or other exceptional circumstances. The group also discussed a draft work program and actions to increase the readiness of the EU in the event of supply disruption in the future.

In the UK, the situation is expected to improve substantially this winter in comparison to last year, notably due to the launching of two new pipelines from the Netherlands and Norway, and due to further increase of the capacity of the UK-Belgium Interconnector.