The EU body responsible for gas infrastructure planning is refusing to disclose whether it has a conflict-of-interest policy, amid concerns about overlaps in its memberships and boardroom with a fossil gas industry lobby group, according to new research published today by Global Witness.
The research details the close relationships between the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Gas (ENTSOG) – the body which shapes EU energy infrastructure decisions – and Gas Infrastructure Europe (GIE), the lobbying body for operators of fossil gas pipelines and LNG terminals in Europe.
The report finds a significant overlap at the board and membership level between ENTSOG and GIE.
- Three-quarters of ENTSOG’s board work for companies which are members of GIE
- One-third of the gas company executives which sit on the ENSTOG board also sit on GIE’s board
- More than half of ENTSOG’s members also hold membership in GIE
- ENTSOG and GIE operate out of the same floor of a Brussels office building
Despite these close connections, ENTSOG refused to reveal to Global Witness any records of lobbying by GIE, or even whether it has a conflict-of-interest policy in place.
GIE companies have benefited heavily from the EU funds made available by their friends at ENTSOG. Under current EU energy rules, ENTSOG forecasts how much gas Europe will need and produces a list of gas infrastructure projects that it wants to be built. The EU’s choice of which infrastructure projects it then supports is limited to those contained in that plan. This means that the European institutions rely on ENTSOG in determining which projects can receive billions of euros in subsidies. Global Witness analysis found that:
- Fossil gas projects involving GIE companies received over €4 billion in EU funding since 2013
- Projects involving GIE members have received over 80% of the EU’s gas infrastructure subsidies since 2013
Barnaby Pace, Senior Gas Campaigner at Global Witness said:
“The potential for a conflict of interest could not be more obvious, but the gas regulator ENTSOG is refusing to disclose the meetings it’s had with the gas lobby, or even say whether it has a conflicts of interest policy.
“This absurd state of affairs has gone hand in hand with over €4bn in subsidies being handed out to fossil gas projects which are fuelling the climate crisis. The fossil gas industry needs to be kicked out of political decision-making for good.”
The legislation which governs how the EU subsidies international energy projects, and which gives ENTSOG it’s current role, is currently being revised and is in negotiation between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission.
ENTSOG and GIE both told Global Witness that in their view there are no conflicts of interest in this case and the final decisions on subsidies for projects are not taken by ENTSOG.