EU member states commit to reducing natural gas & prepare for potential disruptions to Russian gas flows
"EU energy ministers agree to cut gas use in the face of Russian supply disruptions", 27 July 2022
EU energy ministers greenlit a plan on Tuesday (26 July) to reduce gas consumption and prepare for potential disruptions to Russian gas flows after a power struggle with the European Commission over who could implement mandatory targets...
Under the approved text, the Commission would still propose the highest level of alert, which triggers the mandatory target, but EU countries would then vote to approve it. Alternatively, at least five countries that have declared national alerts can request the European Commission to present the EU-wide alert.
Other changes include exemptions from the mandatory target for island countries, like Ireland and Malta, which are not connected to the EU gas grid...
The meeting comes only a day after Gazprom announced it would further reduce gas flows to Germany, creating fresh concerns about Europe’s energy security.
Gazprom’s announcement underlines “once again that we have to be ready for possible supply cuts from Russia at any moment,” said EU energy chief Kadri Simson. To prepare, Europe must act now and together to preemptively reduce demand, she added...
As more Russian gas is cut off, many eyes are on Germany, which is highly reliant on Russian gas and has spent years strengthening gas connections to Russia. This includes building Nord Stream 2, which drew criticism from Berlin’s eastern neighbours.
Speaking on French TV, gas expert Thierry Bros said that “Germany is the European weak link”.
“Without European solidarity, Germany will suffer much more than all other European countries. With European solidarity, all of the EU will suffer. What will the 27 energy ministers choose?” he asked on Twitter.
Germany, Austria, Hungary and Italy are particularly vulnerable to disruptions in Russian gas supply due to their high dependence on Russian flows.
But despite the idea that solidarity could mean propping up Germany, many ministers attending the meeting emphasised the need for it.
“Unity and solidarity is the best weapon we have against Putin,” said Sikela.
Meanwhile, von der Leyen welcomed the agreement, saying: “By acting together to reduce the demand for gas, taking into account all the relevant national specificities, the EU has secured the strong foundations for the indispensable solidarity between Member States in the face of the Putin’s energy blackmail.”
Some countries still want to go further when it comes to Russian gas: the Polish and Estonian ministers both repeated calls for a full ban on imports.