“Gas Emergency Plan”: The three stages at a glance – Politics


Against the background of the Russian war against Ukraine, the German government is preparing for a significant deterioration in gas supplies. There are “currently no supply bottlenecks,” says Economics Minister Robert Habeck. Nevertheless, he calls out the early warning level of the gas emergency plan. “The federal government is doing everything to continue to ensure security of supply in Germany,” says Habeck. But what exactly is this emergency plan all about and what does the declaration of the current level mean?

the current gas emergency plan of the federal government from 2019 is based on an EU regulation from 2017. It provides for three stages, which do not have to be proclaimed one after the other: Early warning level, alert level and emergency level.

early warning level

This is the level that Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck announced today – for the first time in the history of the emergency plan. she sees no state intervention in front.

  • When does it come into effect? According to the EU regulation, if there are “concrete, serious and reliable indications” of a possible event that could lead to a significant deterioration in the gas supply situation. Habeck now sees this as a given: Security of supply is currently guaranteed, but “precautionary measures must be increased in order to be prepared for the event of an escalation by Russia”. The background to this is the government’s demand in Moscow that gas deliveries should only be paid for in rubles. The West and thus Germany reject this.
  • What’s happening now? A crisis team, which includes authorities and energy suppliers, meets at the Federal Ministry of Economics. Suppliers and operators of the gas pipelines now have to regularly assess the situation for the federal government. However, the state is not yet intervening in the gas market – rather, the market participants should ensure that the gas supply is secured. This can be done, for example, by using gas storage facilities.

alert level

When calling this level, it is still assumed that the market can still cope with the disruption on its own.

  • When does it come into effect? The Ministry of Economics calls them out when there is a disruption in the gas supply or an exceptionally high demand for gas, which leads to a significant deterioration in the gas supply situation. The indicators are therefore the same as for the early warning level, only the situation is classified as even more serious.
  • What happens then? The market is still able to handle this disruption or demand without the need for non-market based action.

emergency level

This is the most serious level, where the situation is so serious that – unlike the other levels – the state intervenes in the market. The Federal Network Agency regulates gas distribution.

  • When does it come into effect? This level must be proclaimed by regulation of the federal government – in the case of an exceptionally high demand for gas, a significant disruption in the gas supply or another significant deterioration in the supply situation.
  • What happens then? According to the regulations, “non-market-based measures must then be taken” to ensure the gas supply for protected customers in particular – the state intervenes. According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Federal Network Agency is now becoming the “federal load distributor”: it regulates the distribution of gas. Certain groups of consumers are particularly “protected” – these should be supplied with gas until the very end if possible. This includes private households, but also hospitals, the fire brigade and the police, or gas-fired power plants, which also serve to supply heat to households.



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