I propose to take Questions Nos. 26 and 27 together.
The Government’s Brexit Readiness Action Plan, published in September, sets out that a disruption to the supply of natural gas as a consequence of Brexit is not anticipated. My Department has worked with key State bodies, including the Commission for Regulation of Utilities and Gas Networks Ireland, to ensure they have updated plans in place.
It is expected that the current rules for trading natural gas across interconnectors with the UK will remain the same. However, in the case of any future gas supply emergency disruption, the UK will no longer be bound by current EU obligations. These obligations include Regulation (EU) 2017/1938 which replaced Regulation (EU) 994/2010 and sets out a range of requirements that apply to EU Member States in relation to the security of gas supply.
Ireland will continue to meet the ‘N-1’ infrastructure standard set out in Article 5 of the Regulation on a regional basis with the UK until the end of this year. From 1 January 2021, following the end of the transition period, Ireland will not be in a position to meet the infrastructure standard. However, it should be noted that there will be no adverse impact on security of supply as the same gas infrastructure will remain in place.
From 1 January 2021, the UK will not be required to provide solidarity to Ireland during natural gas supply disruptions under Article 13 of the Regulation. It should be noted that in order for the UK to provide solidarity to Ireland, agreement on technical, legal and financial arrangements would be required. Similar to the majority of other Member States, such agreement is not yet in place. The absence of solidarity will therefore not lead to a reduction in natural gas security of supply from the current position.
Ireland continues to work with our EU partners in the negotiations with the UK to ensure continued future cooperation on natural gas security of supply.