Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) Spain has rejected the European Commission’s call to cut consumption of natural gas.
Speaking in Madrid on Wednesday, Spanish Minister for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge Teresa Ribera noted that Spain is not dependent on gas imports from Russia, according to Reuters reporting.
Ribera reminded that the European Commission proposed 15-percent reduction of natural gas consumption in the period from August to March next year.
According to the EC’s proposal, the cut would be voluntary unless the Commission declares an emergency.
Some EU politicians previously expressed fears that Russia could cut gas deliveries entirely, with the EC stressing that the move would increase risk of severe shortages of natural gas in the bloc.
The proposal still needs approval from EU member states, with diplomats to discuss the EC’s plan later this week and EU energy ministers to approve it at the emergency meeting slated for 26 July.
“I deeply regret to say that Spain does not support this proposal,” Ribera pointed out.
Reasons for rejection
“We consider that it is proposed without prior orientation, without a general debate in the European Council, even when the economic consequences are particularly important… they cannot demand a sacrifice of which they have not even asked our prior opinion,” she noted.
Russia previously cut gas flow through the Nord Stream 1 natural gas pipeline and temporarily stopped it about 10 days ago for annual maintenance.
Flow through the pipeline that accounts for roughly one third of Russia’s exports to the bloc is expected to resume in the coming days.
Disrupted flow has hindered some EU member states’ plans to refill their storages ahead of the winter season, jeopardising economic growth and increasing risk of shortages.
Defending her plan to cut gas consumption, EC President Ursula von der Leyen stressed “Russia is blackmailing us… Russia is using energy as a weapon.” She stressed the importance of preparing for the worst-case scenario.
One EU official expressed belief that “full disruption is likely” and warned “if we wait, it will be more expensive and it will mean us dancing to Russia’s tune.”
Some EU politicians previously accused Russia of using annual maintenance as an excuse for cutting gas supplies to the bloc.