EU countries agree on the reduction of natural gas consumption

European Union countries agreed yesterday (July 26) to use less natural gas and save for the winter to protect themselves from further supply shortages from Russia.

Europe has been facing a bottleneck since Wednesday when Russia’s Gazprom announced it would reduce the flow of gas through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany to one-fifth of its capacity.

Dozens of EU countries are facing a drop in Russian supplies. Brussels, therefore, urged member states to save fuel and store it for the winter.

The energy minister has approved a proposal for all EU countries to reduce their gas consumption by 15% in the period from August to March compared with the average from 2017 to 2021.

The cuts could become mandatory in the event of a supply emergency if most EU countries agree. However, members agreed to exempt many sectors from the 15% commitment.

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said the agreement shows Russian President Vladimir Putin that Europe remains united: “They will not divide us.”

Hungary is the only country that opposes the agreement.

Gazprom justified the latest cut by saying that the operation of a turbine had to be stopped. EU energy chief Kadri Simson rejected this reason, calling the move “politically motivated”.

Simson said the agreement is intended to ensure countries save enough fuel to get through an average winter when Russia cuts off all supplies. But unusually cold winters will require more drastic measures.

Before the invasion of Ukraine, Russia supplied 40% of EU gas.

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