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EU wants to save gas emergency

Belgium Brussels | EU Headquarters - Ursula von der Leyen: Presentation of the gas emergency plan

The EU countries should reduce their gas consumption and supply each other in solidarity. The EU Commission presents an emergency plan to get through the winter without Russian gas. From Brussels Bernd Riegert.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, seconded by the Commissioners for Climate, Energy, and Industry, appealed for common solidarity: “All member states must save, store and share gas,” said von der Leyen. These are challenging times, but it will be possible if all 27 member countries act as one.

Should Russia abruptly halt its gas exports to Europe, the gap between supply and demand in an average cold winter would be at least 30 billion cubic meters. Based on the rarely used emergency article 122 of the EU treaties, the EU Commission proposes that the member states urgently decide on the following measures “in the spirit of solidarity” :

Belgium Brussels |  EU Headquarters - Ursula von der Leyen: Presentation of the gas emergency plan
Von der Leyen, EU Commissioner Timmermans (right): Prepare for emergencies
  • Gas consumption in all member states is to be reduced immediately by 15 percent through savings in the industry and private consumers. The reference value for the reduction target is consumption in 2019, i.e. before the corona pandemic. The savings target also applies to countries such as the Netherlands, Portugal, and the Baltic States, which do not purchase Russian gas. So far, the EU has saved around five percent of gas since the start of the Russian war against Ukraine. That is not enough, said EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson.
  • The level of gas storage in the EU, which currently averages 65 percent, is to be increased to 80 percent by storing unused gas through savings.
  • The use of gas to generate electricity is to be reduced through more use of coal, oil, and other types of energy.
  • The EU member states should buy gas together on a voluntary basis in order to lower the price on the international markets. They are also required to supply each other with gas in the event of a supply gap. This is already specified in an existing SOS regulation ( Security Of Supply ). It calls on the EU members to voluntarily enter into bilateral agreements with one another. So far, however, there are only a few of them. There is no quota system for the central distribution of scarce gas by the EU headquarters in Brussels.
  • The search for alternative gas suppliers in the USA, Canada, Qatar, Algeria, Azerbaijan, and other countries should be intensified. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen calculated that since the Russian attack on Ukraine began, the EU has already been able to secure more supplies of “non-Russian gas” than Russia has cut in the same period.
  • The expansion of renewable energy is to be accelerated, announced EU Commissioner Frans Timmermans. States that – unlike Germany or Italy – are not as dependent on Russian gas should show solidarity, said Timmermann’s, because if industry in Germany or Italy were no longer able to produce, the economy throughout the EU would suffer extremely.
Germany Lubmin | Start of maintenance work on Nord Stream 1
Banger look at Lubmin: Will gas flow through the Nord Stream 1 pipe coming from Russia again?

EU countries still have to agree

The EU energy ministers are to vote on the EU Commission’s proposal at a special meeting next Tuesday.

“Putin wants to put us under pressure this winter, but he will fail if we stick together and act together,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. The gas turbine, which, according to Russian sources, will allow gas supplies to resume through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline could delay is on the way to Russia, said von der Leyen. The Siemens turbine was in Canada for repairs. An exemption from EU sanctions had to be granted for transport to Russia. “This is not an excuse not to deliver gas,” said von der Leyen. “There are enough identical turbines that would be available. It’s not the only turbine in the world.” The maintenance work for Nord Stream1 is scheduled to end on Thursday. Whether and how much gas will flow is an open question. The EU Commission President ruled out using the parallel Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which was completed but not put into operation for political reasons.

MEP Markus Ferber (CSU) expressed skepticism about the EU Commission’s emergency plan. You don’t need energy-saving tips from the EU, but practical solidarity. For example, Poland, which has full gas storage facilities, would also have to supply Germany if there were bottlenecks here. “The core problem is that we will simply not have enough gas in winter if Russia turns off the gas supply,” said Markus Ferber in Brussels. This endangers the substance of Germany as a business location. “A problem of this magnitude cannot be solved with information campaigns and turning down the heating in the offices alone,” says Ferber.

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