Brussels, SAEDNEWS: The voluntary measure is part of the highly-anticipated Save Gas for a Safe Winter plan presented in Brussels over worries that the EU will struggle to not only fill in gas storage capacities before the onset of winter but also fail to secure enough additional supplies to fill in the gaps during the colder months.
The aim, the Commission said, is to safeguard supply to households and essential users like hospitals and key industries with all economic actors, including citizens, also urged to think about their own behaviour.
Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen underlined that although some member states are more directly exposed to Russian gas and are therefore more vulnerable to disruptions, all member states "will suffer" if the bloc fails to act together as it would have an impact on the single market and the economy and tehfore employment.
"It's important that all member states contribute in the saving, the storing and are ready to share.
'Make it safely through the winter'
As part of the proposal, member states would have to submit national energy plans to the Commission by the end of September and provide an update every two months. Countries requesting solidarity gas supplies will be required to demonstrate the measures they have taken to reduce demand domestically.
The proposed legislation would also grant the Commission the power to declare a 'Union alert' on security of supply and to impose a mandatory gas demand reduction on all member states if they fail to cut back enough voluntarily.
This alert would be triggered when "there is a substantial risk of severe gas shortage or an exceptionally high gas demand", the Commission said in a statement.
Von der Leyen explained that a 15% reduction in gas consumption equates to about 45 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas — Russia delivered about 150 bcm of gas to the EU in 2021 — and that it would enable the bloc to "make it safely through the winter" in case of a complete cut-off from Russia. It would also avoid the need to impose forced curtailment measures that could see some industries compelled to slow down production to save energy.
The Commission's proposal will be discussed by EU ministers during an extraordinary energy summit on 26 July (Source: Euronews).