EU proposes 15% cut to gas consumption amid Russian ‘blackmail’
Brussels, Jul 20 (EFE).- The European Union on Wednesday asked member states to reduce gas consumption by 15% until spring 2023 to mitigate disruption caused by potential further cuts to Russian gas supplies.
“Russia is blackmailing us, Russia is using energy as a weapon,” Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, told a Brussels press conference called for the presentation of the European Gas Demand Reduction Plan proposal.
She said a full cutoff of Russian gas was a “likely scenario” that would affect the whole of the EU.
The Kremlin has already reduced its gas flow to Europe to under a third of the volume it provided last year, before Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, she added.
The gas rationing proposal would request member states to reduce consumption by 15% from August 1 to March 2023, and would grant the Commission the power to declare an EU-wide state of alert in the event of a gas shortage or during a period of high demand.
“To make it through the winter, assuming there is a full disruption of Russian gas, we need to save gas to fill our gas storages faster, and to do so we need to reduce our gas consumption,” von der Leyen said, calling for unity and acknowledging it was a “big ask.”
EU gas stores are currently at 64% of capacity — the bloc aims to hit 80% in time for November — and it has boosted its non-Russian gas supplies by 35 billion cubic meters since January through deals with the United States, Qatar, and Norway, among other nations. EFE