An EU plan to cut gas consumption across the bloc by 15% to tackle the energy price crisis caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine comes into effect on Tuesday (August 9).
The EU regulation enshrining the plan agreed two weeks ago by the 27-nation bloc was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on Monday, stating that it would come into force from Tuesday.
“Given the imminent danger to gas supply security caused by Russian military aggression against Ukraine, this regulation should enter into force as a matter of urgency,” he said.
The aim is for the EU to be able to boost its gas reserves in time for what is likely to be a very difficult winter. European households and businesses are being squeezed by soaring energy prices and a cut in Russian gas on which several member states depend.
The regulation states that EU countries will “do their best” to reduce their gas consumption “by at least 15%” between August this year and March next year, based on their average consumption at during the previous five years.
Some EU countries, however, had exceptions to strict adherence to the rule, which was, in any case, referred to as “voluntary demand reduction”.
These were countries that were not fully connected to the European electricity grid or gas pipelines to other parts of the EU or unable to free up enough gas pipeline to help other member states.
Hungary, which depends on gas delivered directly from Russia, had asked for the exception.
Germany, the EU’s economic powerhouse, took a major share of the 40 percent of EU gas imports from Russia last year.
If the European Commission sees the emergence of a “serious gas supply shortage” or exceptionally high gas demand, it can ask EU countries to declare an alert for the bloc. This would make gas cuts binding and limit exceptions.
While the EU has not included Russian gas in its sanctions against Moscow for the war in Ukraine, the Kremlin has still drastically cut supplies in what Brussels appears to be an attempt to arm Europe.