The EU states have initiated the decision-making process for an emergency plan to reduce gas consumption. At a special meeting of the ministers responsible for energy, the necessary majority for the step came together.

This was confirmed by the Czech EU Council Presidency. The plan is primarily intended to reduce the risks that could arise from a complete disruption of Russian gas supplies.

According to the text of the ordinance, which is available to the German Press Agency, the plan, as proposed by the EU Commission, provides for a voluntary reduction in national consumption by 15 percent between August 1, 2022 and March 31, 2023. In addition, the possibility should be created to trigger a Union alarm in the event of far-reaching supply bottlenecks and to set binding savings targets.

Compared to the Commission’s first draft, however, there are significantly more possible exceptions and the hurdles for the introduction of binding savings targets have also been increased. The latter should only be able to be enforced by the Council of Member States and not by the EU Commission.

In concrete terms, this means that a Commission proposal for binding savings targets needs the approval of a group of 15 of the 27 EU countries. In addition, these must together make up at least 65 percent of the total population of the Union.

Derogations should provide, for example, that countries such as Cyprus, Malta and Ireland should not be obliged to save gas as long as they are not directly connected to the gas network of another member state. In other countries, for example, efforts to store gas, an impending electricity crisis and the consumption of gas as a raw material for the production of fertilizers, for example, should be able to reduce the mandatory savings.

The current Czech EU Council Presidency justified the many exemptions on Tuesday on the fringes of the energy ministers’ meeting. “Different states are in different positions,” said the responsible minister, Jozef Sikela. For example, in some countries there were no connecting pipes and some countries still had to do a lot to fill the gas storage facilities sufficiently for the winter.

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