European Union governments agreed yesterday to ration natural gas this winter to protect themselves against any further supply cuts by Russia as Moscow pursues its invasion of Ukraine.
EU energy ministers approved a draft European law meant to lower demand for gas by 15% from August through March. The new legislation entails voluntary national steps to reduce gas consumption and, if they yield insufficient savings, a trigger for mandatory moves in the 27-member bloc.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen welcomed the move, saying that the “the EU has taken a decisive step to face down the threat of a full gas disruption by (Russian President Vladimir) Putin.”
On Monday, Russian energy giant Gazprom said it would limit supplies to the EU through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to 20% of capacity, heightening concerns that Russian President Vladimir Putin will use gas trade to challenge the bloc’s opposition to the war in Ukraine.
“The winter is coming and we don’t know how cold it will be,” said Czech Industry Minister Jozef Sikela, whose policy portfolio includes energy. “But what we know for sure is that Putin will continue to play his dirty games in misusing and blackmailing by gas supplies.”
The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, is pressing the ministers to reach an agreement less than a week after rushing out the rationing proposal.
“We have to be ready for the possible supply cuts from Russia at any moment,” said European Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson. “We have to act right now.” MDT/AP