The European Commission today proposed emergency legislation that would allow Brussels to impose binding 15% cuts in gas consumption on EU countries over the next two years.
“The recent escalation of disruptions in gas supply from Russia indicates a significant risk that a complete and prolonged shutdown of Russian gas supply could materialize in an abrupt and unilateral manner,” the Commission said in a statement. note accompanying the proposal. “Acting now can reduce both the risk and the costs for Europe in the event of further or total disruption.”
The regulation would set an initial target of a voluntary 15% reduction in gas consumption between August 1 and March 31.
Brussels could also activate an EU-wide alert if it believes there is a “substantial risk of a severe gas shortage” and make the 15% target mandatory.
If the measure is passed, countries will have to update their national contingency plans by September to detail how they plan to achieve the voluntary cuts and provide updates to the Commission on progress every two months.
If these reductions become binding, individual countries can request to lower their mandatory 5% target in certain circumstances.
The proposal comes as leaders brace for a gas supply crisis that could freeze entire sectors of the bloc’s economy if the Nord Stream gas pipeline between Russia and Germany, which is down for maintenance. routine since July 11, does not return online Thursday. as expected.
Russia’s Gazprom has already cut off or limited gas supplies to 12 EU countries. International Energy Agency data released on Monday shows that since Russia invaded Ukraine, Moscow has earned triple what it normally earns from oil and gas sales in a single winter , which means it can afford to continue to cut westbound deliveries to Europe.
The Commission estimates that shutting off Russian gas supplies to the EU would hurt the bloc’s economy by up to 1.5% of GDP.
EU energy ministers are expected to endorse the Commission’s proposal at an Energy Council meeting on July 26.
The proposal also includes a model temporary state aid crisis framework, allowing governments to incentivize industry to save gas. Recommended ways to reduce gas consumption, including paying industry to use less, are set out in an attached communication and appendix, titled “Save Gas for a Safe Winter”.