The countries of the European Union today approved an emergency plan to curb their demand for gas, while preparing for further reductions in supply from Russia.
Europe has been facing increased gas shortages since last week, when Gazprom said it would cut flows through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany to a fifth of capacity. With a dozen EU countries already facing reduced Russian supplies, Brussels is urging states to save gas and store it for the winter over fears Russia will cut off flows entirely in retaliation for Western sanctions.
Energy ministers approved a proposal for all EU countries to voluntarily reduce gas use by 15% from August to March. However, they agreed to exempt numerous countries and industries from the proposal, as some governments resisted the plan.
German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said the deal would show Russian President Vladimir Putin that Europe remains united in the face of Moscow’s latest gas cuts. “They will not separate us,” Habeck said.
Russia’s Gazprom blamed its latest reduction on the need to stop the operation of a turbine, a reason dismissed by EU energy chief Kadri Simson, who said the move was “politically motivated”.