Environmental policiesPolicy and Affairs

Commission urges EU countries to save another 15% of gas

Other voluntary cuts to gas demand recommended

– The efforts made by the 27 to save gas amid the energy crisis have allowed the European Union to protect itself from a disruption of Russian supplies. To be precise, from August 2022 to December 2023 the Bloc reduced gas demand by 18%, managing to do less than 101 billion cubic meters of fuel. There is no doubt that the result has also contributed to milder weather conditions in the winter months. And it cannot be ignored that part of the savings also depends on the extra contribution of coal-fired power plants, temporarily carried over to maximum activity.

In any case, the temporary rules drawn up by the European Commission have hit the nail on the head and helped to increase regional energy security. That is why, with the emergency regulation (2022/1369/EC) now running out, Brussels is coming back to the issue and asking the Member States for further efforts.

The EU executive proposed yesterday the adoption of a recommendation on the extension of gas-saving measures. This recommendation, which should be adopted by the Council, encourages Member States to continue to take voluntary action to maintain a collective 15% reduction in demand, compared to the average gas consumption recorded between April 2017 and March 2022.

Fragile and susceptible markets

Recent episodes of significant price volatility, including those during the summer and autumn of 2023, when prices rose by more than 50% in a few weeks due to the strike in Australian LNG facilities and the interruption of connector activity baltic, show that markets remain fragile and also susceptible to relatively minor supply and demand shocks,” writes the EU Commission.

“Under these conditions, the fear that natural gas supply may be scarce can trigger negative systemic reactions across the Union with serious repercussions on energy prices,” the European Commission continues. “Furthermore, due to the significant decrease in gas imports through Russian gas pipelines in the last year, the overall availability of gas supplies to the Union has significantly decreased compared to pre-crisis conditions. The Union received about 25 billion cubic meters of Russian gas through pipelines and, overall, Russian supplies accounted for only 15% of total Union imports (gas pipelines and LNG) in 2023, compared to 45% in 2021″.

Save gas, the word at the Council of the Union

In this context, saving gas, albeit as a voluntary measure, can help to relieve tension. The recommendation, which will be discussed by Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson and EU energy ministers at the Council on Monday 4 March, Calls also for Member States to report their gas consumption to Brussels via Eurostat at least every two months and no later than the 15th day of the following month. And that the measures chosen by countries to reduce demand are clearly defined, transparent, proportionate, non-discriminatory and verifiable.

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