On Thursday, the Bundestag passed regulations up to and including the expropriation of companies in the event of an energy emergency. In the evening, parliament approved a new version of the energy security law with the votes of the traffic light coalition of SPD, Greens and FDP against the background of conflicts with deliveries from Russia.

The law is expected to come into force in June after it has been discussed in the Bundesrat. In the Bundestag, the left also voted for the bill, the AfD rejected it, and the Union abstained.

In the future, special measures should be possible even before there is an immediate threat to the energy supply. Corporations could then be put under trusteeship. This should take effect if the companies can no longer fulfill their tasks and the security of supply is at risk.

Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck had already acted on a different legal basis at Gazprom Germania, the German business of the Russian gas group. The subsidiary was placed under the trusteeship of the Federal Network Agency, which will now exercise all voting rights from shares in Gazprom Germania until September 30.

Energy market experts had previously spoken out in favor of nationalizing the company and its subsidiaries such as Wingas. “Expropriation would be the method of choice so that Wingas’ trading partners, for example, can continue to have the security of being served,” said Fabian Huneke from the consulting firm Energy Brainpool in Berlin.

After the gas deliveries were stopped, Gazprom Germania’s trading companies were at risk of insolvency. State guarantees are therefore necessary. “This prevents many other companies from also getting into difficulties through a domino effect.” From Huneke’s point of view, nationalization is “the best way to get more security into the market”.

Gazprom initially wanted to sell the subsidiary to another owner so that the government could intervene. Russia has now responded with sanctions and no longer wants to supply the trading and storage subsidiaries with gas.

The renewed law could be applied for the first time if no solution is found to the question of ownership of the Schwedt an der Oder oil refinery. It is majority owned by the Rosneft group, which supplies it with Russian pipeline oil.

Germany wants to replace this and has already developed plans for this. However, the prerequisite would be that Rosneft sells its shares or is legally forced to do so.

The Energy Security Act has changed only slightly since 1975. In the parliamentary process, the FDP had prevailed against the government draft that after a company has been nationalized, it must later be privatized again.

The law authorizes the government and its authorities to take countermeasures in the event of a threat to the supply. These include regulations on the production, transport and distribution of energy.