Internal market in gas

Directive 2009/73/EC on common rules for the internal market in natural gas

It aims to introduce common rules for the transmission, distribution, supply and storage of natural gas* with the objectives of providing market access and enabling fair and non-discriminatory competition.
It concerns natural gas, liquefied natural gas (LNG), biogas and gas from biomass.

Rules for the organisation of the sector

These rules are aimed at creating a competitive, secure and environmentally sustainable market in natural gas.

EU countries may impose public service obligations on gas companies, covering:

technical safety and security of supply;
regularity and quality of service;
environmental protection; and
energy efficiency.

EU countries must ensure that:

all customers have the right to choose their gas supplier and to change supplier easily, with their operator’s assistance, within 3 weeks;
customers receive relevant consumption data.

EU countries are responsible for monitoring the security of supply and in particular:

the balance of supply and demand on the national market;
available supplies;
maintenance of the networks; and
the measures to be taken in the event of supply problems.

Regional or international cooperation may be put in place to ensure the security of supply.

EU countries must ensure the integration of national markets at one or more regional levels, as a first step towards the integration of a fully liberalised internal market. The isolated systems which form ‘gas islands’ must also be integrated. In this context, the national regulatory authorities must cooperate with the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators.

Transmission, storage and LNG

Unbundling* nd transparency of accounts

From 3 March 2012, EU countries were required to unbundle transmission systems and transmission system operators. This means that companies active in the production or supply of gas or electricity cannot exercise any rights over a transmission system operator, and vice versa.

EU countries and the competent authorities have right of access to the accounts of natural gas companies but must preserve the confidentiality of certain information. Natural gas companies must keep separate accounts for all of their activities relating to the supply of gas, such as transmission and distribution.

Designation of transmission system operators

A company must first be certified before being officially designated as a transmission system operator. A list of transmission system operators designated by EU countries is then published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

In addition and, where applicable, EU countries have to designate one or more storage and LNG system operator.

Tasks of transmission system operators

System operators are responsible for:

operating, maintaining and developing transmission systems, storage and/or LNG facilities with due regard to the environment;
ensuring non-discrimination between system users;
providing information to any other transmission system operator, any other storage system operator, any other LNG system operator and/or any distribution system operator to ensure the interconnection of the transmission and storage of natural gas;
providing system users with the information they need to access the system.
Transmission system operators must build sufficient cross-border capacity to integrate the European transmission infrastructure. Every year, they must submit to the regulatory authority a 10-year network development plan indicating the main infrastructure that needs to be built or modernised as well as the investments to be executed over the next 10 years.

Distribution and supply

EU countries must designate distribution system operators or require companies which own or are responsible for distribution systems to do so.

Distribution system operators are mainly responsible for:

ensuring the long-term capacity of the system in terms of the distribution of gas, operation, maintenance, development and environmental protection;
ensuring transparency with respect to system users;
providing system users with information;
covering energy losses and maintaining reserve capacity.
The distribution system operator must be independent in legal terms from other activities not relating to distribution.

Organisation of access to the system

EU countries or the competent regulatory authorities are responsible for organising a system of non-discriminatory third-party access to transmission and distribution systems based on published tariffs. They must ensure that eligible customers can obtain access to upstream pipeline networks. Also, they have to define the conditions for access to storage facilities and linepack (the storage of gas by compression in gas transmission and distribution systems).

Additional rules for the internal market in natural gas

Directive (EU) 2019/692 seeks to address obstacles to the completion of the internal market in natural gas which result from the non-application of the EU market rules to gas transmission lines to and from non-EU countries. The amendments introduced by this directive are intended to ensure that the rules applicable to gas transmission lines connecting two or more EU countries are also applicable, within the EU, to gas transmission lines to and from non-EU countries.

Application & Background

It has applied since 3 September 2009 and had to become law in the EU countries by 3 March 2011.

This directive repealed Directive 2003/55/EC on 3 March 2011.

Two 2007 Commission communications on the prospects for the internal gas and electricity market and the sector inquiry into the gas and electricity markets highlighted the inadequacy of the rules and measures in force relating to the internal market and showed that the adoption of new rules was required.


Natural gas: a flammable gas which occurs naturally underground, which mainly comprises methane and other hydrocarbons and is mainly used as fuel.
Unbundling: the separation of gas distribution networks from production and supply activities of gas companies.


Directive 2009/73/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 July 2009 concerning common rules for the internal market in natural gas and repealing Directive 2003/55/EC (OJ L 211, 14.8.2009, pp. 94-136)

Successive amendments to Directive 2009/73/EC have been incorporated in the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.


Regulation (EC) No 713/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 July 2009 establishing an Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (OJ L 211, 14.8.2009, pp. 1-14)

See consolidated version.

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament — Prospects for the internal gas and electricity market (COM(2006) 841 final, 10.1.2007)

Communication from the Commission — Inquiry pursuant to Article 17 of Regulation (EC) No 1/2003 into the European gas and electricity sectors (Final Report) (COM(2006) 851 final, 10.1.2007)


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