Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) The EC is to propose mandatory gas consumption cuts to avoid potential deepening of the energy crisis in winter.
In the draft document, the Commission warned that Russia could cut natural gas supplies further and added that EU member states could face shortages if they do not implement cuts, according to Reuters reporting on Wednesday.
The EC’s plan would make reduction targets legally binding, with EU officials noting that consumption cut targets would stand between 10% and 15% and adding that the proposal will be presented later on Wednesday.
The EC could change the plan before it is released and the scheme would require approval from EU member states before it comes into force.
Some bloc members voiced opposition to the plan, with Polish Minister of Climate and Environment Anna Moskwa stressing last week “we are against imposing mandatory reduction targets.”
Poland’s storage full
She pointed out that Poland filled its natural gas storage to 98% of capacity after Russian Gazprom stopped delivering gas to the EU member state in April.
However, EU officials expressed belief that mandatory reduction of gas consumption is necessary, warning that Russia could cut supplies.
“We believe that a full disruption is likely and it is especially likely if we don’t act and leave ourselves vulnerable to it,” one official noted and added “if we wait, it will be more expensive and it will mean us dancing to Russia’s tune.”
According to EC’s estimates, the bloc’s GDP could drop up to 1.5% if EU member states fail to prepare, the winter is cold and Russia fully cuts gas supplies.
The Commission proposes state aid to industry in exchange for lower consumption of gas, adding that governments should choose which industries they would force to close first in case of a supply emergency.
Gas flow through the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline has been slashed and is due to restart after annual maintenance. Some EU member states fear that Russia will not increase gas flow following maintenance, which would exacerbate the energy crunch.Sources predicted that gas flow will resume after maintenance, but not at full capacity.