The European Commission on Wednesday proposed a new legislative instrument, the European Gas Demand Reduction Plan, which aims to reduce gas use in Europe by 15% by next spring, as the EU faces the risk of further gas supply disruptions from Russia.
“Russia is using gas as a weapon. We have to address our energy security at EU level. We learnt from the pandemic that if we act in unity, we can address any crisis. So let’s act together to reduce gas use and provide a safety net for all EU countries”, reads a Twitter post by the EC President, Ursula von der Leyen.
“A total disruption of Russian gas exports is likely and very possible if we do not act and become vulnerable. If we keep waiting, it will cost us even more and it will mean that we depend on Russia“, the president of the European Commission further said.
Ursula von der Leyen also stressed that all Member States will “suffer” if the bloc fails to act together, even if some Member States are more directly exposed to Russian gas and are therefore more vulnerable to disruption. “It is important that all Member States contribute to saving, storage and being ready to share the gas,” she added.
All consumers, public administrations, households, owners of public buildings, energy suppliers and industry can and should take measures to save gas. The Commission will also step up work on diversifying supplies, including joint gas procurement, to strengthen the EU’s ability to secure alternative gas supplies.
The Commission is proposing a new Council Regulation on coordinated measures to reduce gas demand, based on Article 122 of the Treaty. The new regulation will set a target for all Member States to reduce gas demand by 15% between 1 August 2022 and 31 March 2023.
“We want to focus on saving energy. We must prepare for the event that Russia will cut off gas supplies. That could affect the whole EU, it will affect every Member State, every house. (…) We have to get over the winter, this is the goal, we have to reduce and reduce gas consumption”, Ursula von der Leyen also pointed out.
The new regulation would also give the Commission the possibility to declare, after consulting the Member States, a “Union alert” on security of supply, imposing a mandatory reduction in gas demand for all Member States. The Union alert may be triggered when there is a substantial risk of a severe gas shortage or an exceptionally high gas demand.
“If the situation deteriorates, if there are interruptions, we will launch an alert system in the EU, we will ask the Member States to reduce by 15%,” said the chief executive of the European executive.