EU members agree to ration gas use amid Russia supply fears

European Union member states on Tuesday reached agreement on a voluntary reduction of natural gas use by 15 percent this winter to increase the security of energy supply.

Polands Climate and Environment Minister Anna Moskwa (centre) talks to her European Union counterparts at an extraordinary meeting of the EUs Energy Council, in Brussels, Belgium, on Tuesday, July 26, 2022.

Poland’s Climate and Environment Minister Anna Moskwa (centre) talks to her European Union counterparts at an extraordinary meeting of the EU’s Energy Council, in Brussels, Belgium, on Tuesday, July 26, 2022.PAP/EPA/Stephanie Lecocq

The agreement was reached at an extraordinary meeting of EU energy ministers in Brussels, Belgium, Polish state news agency PAP reported.

The EU energy ministers said that “the purpose of the gas demand reduction is to make savings ahead of winter in order to prepare for possible disruptions of gas supplies from Russia that is continuously using energy supplies as a weapon.”

Voluntary reduction in gas demand

“Member states agreed to reduce their gas demand by 15% compared to their average consumption in the past five years, between 1 August 2022 and 31 March 2023, with measures of their own choice,” the EU announced.

While the 15 percent gas demand reduction is voluntary, the regulation “also foresees the possibility to trigger a ‘Union alert’ on security of supply, in which case the gas demand reduction would become mandatory,” officials said.

However, the EU energy ministers “specified some exemptions and possibilities to request a derogation from the mandatory reduction target, in order to reflect the particular situations of member states and ensure that the gas reductions are effective in increasing security of supply in the EU.”

’The plan is neutral for Poland’

Polish Climate and Environment Minister Anna Moskwa, who took part in Tuesday’s meeting, confirmed afterwards that Poland would not be subject to any mandatory reduction targets. 

“This was our goal during the negotiations,” she said. “The plan is neutral for Poland.”

Moskwa added that fellow EU member states appreciated that Polish firms and industries had already reduced their gas usage, while the government had filled up the country’s storage facilities to prepare for a potential supply crisis.   

She renewed Poland’s call for the EU’s emissions trading scheme (ETS) to undergo comprehensive reform.  

’A decisive step’

Meanwhile, the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, welcomed Tuesday’s agreement, saying in a tweet: “It is a decisive step to face down the threat of a full gas disruption. Thanks to today’s decision, Europe is now ready to address its energy security, as a Union.”

(pm/gs)

Source: IAR, PAPconsilium.europa.eu

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