Status: 07/26/2022 3:33 p.m.
EU countries have agreed on a gas emergency plan for this winter. This should reduce consumption by 15%. Due to numerous exceptions for certain countries, Germany will probably have to save a little more.
Faced with the gas shortage, the EU has decided on an emergency plan for this winter. This was confirmed by Czech Industry Minister Jozef Sikula, whose country currently holds the Council Presidency. According to this, Member States should reduce their gas consumption between August 1, 2022 and March 31, 2023 by at least 15% compared to their average gas consumption between August 1 and March 31 of the previous five years.
New gas storage providers and quotas
However, these savings must be made on a voluntary basis. How and where this should happen is also not specified. However, if everyone stuck to it, the EU would come through the winter in good shape. At the same time, the EU wants to find other gas suppliers. Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson cited the United States, Algeria and Nigeria as examples. In addition, work is underway on liquefied gas terminals to reduce dependence on Moscow. And there is the requirement that each country fill its gas storage tanks to at least 66% by the start of winter.
In an emergency – by the member states and not by Brussels as initially planned – austerity measures can also be decided, but the obstacles are high: at least five countries must call the European Commission to make a proposal. EU states would then have to decide by qualified majority – that is, at least 15 states representing 65% of the EU population.
“An unprecedented step”
Economy Minister Robert Habeck was initially satisfied. It is a “strong signal against all mockers and against all despisers” of the EU.
His Secretary of State, Sven Giegold, also called the settlement an unprecedented milestone. “Member states that do not import Russian gas are showing solidarity and committing to abstain from consumption. This has never happened before,” he commented.
The current compromise is a heavily watered down version of the European Commission’s original plan. However, this has met with resistance, including from southern countries such as Spain and Italy. Spanish Energy Minister Teresa Ribera, for example, said it was impossible to pay for Germany’s political mistakes. Consequently, the compromise now provides for many exceptions to the savings target – far more than the Commission had foreseen. They concern island countries – such as Ireland, Cyprus or Malta – or countries not connected to the interconnected network such as Spain and Portugal. You can request exemptions from the savings obligation.
There should also be special rules for the Baltic states, as their power grids are closely linked to those of Russia. They should be able to continue to produce electricity if Moscow cuts the electricity.
For Germany this means: more than 15%
However, Germany needs to save much more gas than other countries this winter to avoid massive problems for the industry in the event of a possible disruption of Russian gas supplies. On the one hand, this is due to the many exceptions in the treaty. On the other hand, it is also because Germany has a lot of energy-intensive industries.
Experts, such as the head of the Federal Network Agency, Klaus Müller, call for savings of around 20%. If this happens, a gas shortage could be avoided. Habeck said in Brussels: “Indeed, for some countries and I would say also for Germany, we should try to improve.” However, much depends on the winter cold and the individual consumption of citizens.
In case of emergency, austerity measures – EU energy ministers decide on gas plan
Jakob Mayr, ARD Brussels, 26.7.2022 3:11 p.m.