15th Aug 2022

EU Commission set to unveil gas-reduction plan

  • The new 'demand-reduction plan' comes amid concerns over gas flow disruptions via the Nord Stream 1 (Photo: Jasmine Halki)
Listen to article

The European Commission will present on Wednesday (20 July) a new plan to reduce gas consumption by industry and consumers in a bid to prepare for "a likely deterioration" — or a full cut-off of Russian gas flows this winter.

Gas flows from Russia to the Baltic countries, Poland, Bulgaria, and Finland have completely stopped, while supply to Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands and Italy has been recently reduced — prompting the EU executive to argue that "there is no reason to believe this pattern will change".

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

A complete halt of Russian gas supplies could materialise later this year in "an abrupt and unilateral way," according to the leaked draft seen by EUobserver.

But the supply reduction has already led to record-high and volatile energy prices, fuelling inflation and creating a risk of further economic downturn in Europe, reads the document. Overall flows from Russia are now less than 30 percent of the average of 2016-2021.

The plan highlights that "large savings" can be achieved by deploying campaigns targeting households to decrease the thermostat by one degree and wherever feasible, reduce the heating of public buildings, offices, and commercial buildings to 19 degrees Celsius.

Buildings in the EU are responsible for 40 percent of the bloc's energy consumption but public authorities can lead by example as an important gas consumer.

The commission will also call on EU member states to consider using other fuels for electricity generation, such as coal and nuclear power.

But it acknowledges that these "temporary" measures may also have an impact on air pollution, and, therefore, be designed in a way that does not compromise the bloc's medium-term decarbonisation objectives and transition in the coal regions.

Under its 'Save Gas for a Safe Winter' plan, the commission will suggest to EU member states a voluntary 15-percent cut in natural gas use starting already next month, Bloomberg reported.

In May, the EU pledged to reduce its imports of Russian gas by two-thirds this year and phase out its energy trade with Moscow by 2027, at the earliest. Efforts to reduce the EU's addition to Russian gas include having a common purchase of gas, diversification of gas supplies and securing adequate gas storage levels.

But experts previously warned that a full cut-off of gas imports from Russia could only be met by reducing EU gas demand.

Earlier this month, the Brussels-based think tank Breugel calculated that a total demand reduction over the next 10 months of about 15 percent compared to average demand in 2019-2021 would be needed to compensate for a complete stopping of Russian pipeline imports.

The new "demand reduction plan" comes amid concerns over gas flow disruptions via the Nord Stream 1 — a pipeline connecting Russia with Germany which accounts for more than a third of Russian natural gas exports to the bloc.

Russian energy giant Gazprom has reduced natural gas shipments to 40 percent capacity last month, citing maintenance problems. But gas flows are expected to be restarted on Thursday (21 July), according to Reuters.

EU ministers struggle over 15% gas-cut plan

The meeting comes as the Russian state-controlled Gazprom announced that supplies through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany would drop to just 20 percent of capacity, starting Wednesday.

Brazil pitches itself as answer to Ukraine war food shortages

Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro is pitching his Latin American country as the answer to the world food crisis following the war in Ukraine. The traditional wheat importer has now exported three million tonnes of the grain so far in 2022.


Exploiting the Ukraine crisis for Big Business

From food policy to climate change, corporate lobbyists are exploiting the Ukraine crisis to try to slash legislation that gets in the way of profit. But this is only making things worse.

News in Brief

  1. Germany to help nationals cope with energy price spike
  2. Germany wants pipeline from Portugal
  3. Ukraine urges US to sanction all Russian banks
  4. Spain evacuates 294 Afghans
  5. EU sanctions have 'limited' effect of Russian oil production
  6. Donors pledge €1.5bn to Ukraine's war effort
  7. Sweden overtakes France as EU's top power exporter
  8. Italy's far-right star in European charm offensive

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  3. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  6. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting

Latest News

  1. Defying Russian bombs, Ukraine football starts 2022 season
  2. Sweden to extradite man wanted by Turkey
  3. EU must beware Beijing's new charm offensive
  4. Forest fire near Bordeaux forces over 10,000 to flee
  5. Estonia and Latvia sever China club ties
  6. Russian coal embargo kicks in, as EU energy bills surge
  7. Only Western unity can stop Iran hostage-diplomacy
  8. Kosovo PM warns of renewed conflict with Serbia

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us