On July 20th, The European Commission urged member states to reduce their gas consumption by 15% from August this year until the end of March 2023 to preserve their gas reserve in the event of a total ban on importing Russia’s gas in the event of their faulty act to invades Ukraine. Commission Chief, Ursula von der Leyen underlined that it is important that all member states contribute in saving, storing, and are ready to share gas.
The Commission said that all gas consumption actors should think about their behavior. The reason behind the urged act is to save the supply to households and big consumptions industries with all economic actors. The act is part of the highly-anticipated Save Gas for a Safe Winter plan presented in Brussels over worries that the EU will struggle to not only fill in gas storage capacities before winter but also fail to secure enough additional supplies to fill in the gaps during the colder months.
As part of the proposal, member states need to submit their national energy plans to reduce gas demand domestically to the Commission by the end of September and provide an update every two months. The proposed legislation would also grant the Commission the power to declare a ‘Union alert’ on the security of supply and to impose a mandatory gas demand reduction on all member states if they fail to cut back enough voluntarily. The Commission’s proposal will be discussed by EU ministers during an extraordinary energy summit on 26 July.
Previously, the bloc along with the United States has put an embargo on Russian oil which will come into force at the end of the year and which should result in a 90% cut in imports and 12 member states have already had their Russian gas supplies either partially or completely cut off. Other member states suggested that they can take include switching from gas to other energy sources, with a priority on renewables and cleaner fuels.
Otherwise, the Commission planned to coordinate joint purchases of gas with other suppliers such as the US, Norway, Azerbaijan, Qatar, and Israel, according to Euronews. From the same source, The bloc has also already committed to filling in gas storage capacities to at least 80% before 1 November. European Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson told reporters that gas storage capacities already filled to about 65% in the EU but that cut-off deliveries of Russian gas will make the 80% target challenging. Additionally, Frans Timmermans, the Executive Vice-President of the Commission in charge of the European Green Deal, stressed “We remain masters of our destiny if we really do this,” and confidently said that the EU would “avoid a full-blown crisis next winter.”
Meanwhile, Hungary slams the new EU proposal to reduce gas consumption, saying the proposal is unenforceable and harmful to the country. Budapest becomes the only member country that rejects this proposal. The Foreign Minister of Hungary said that the proposal is ignoring the needs of the people.