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All EU countries should use 15% less gas by next spring. For now, this is still a directive, but if many states fail to do so after the summer, it becomes an obligation. European Commissioner Frans Timmermans has just presented, on behalf of the European Commission, a contingency plan that Europe must go through over the coming winter if Russia, as expected, reduces or even halts gas exports to the EU.
The goal is for all countries to reduce their gas consumption by 15% between August and March, compared to their average consumption over the past five years. They have until the end of September to draw up a national contingency plan and send it to UNHCR. Next, European governments must submit a report to Brussels every two months on how gas savings are progressing.
Countries should sound the alarm when there is an imminent gas shortage. The European Commission will then consider whether other countries can help. “If we succeed, then Russian President Putin’s attempt to separate us will fail,” European Commissioner Frans Timmermans said.
Mandatory or not?
Not all countries see a mandatory reduction in gas consumption. For example, it is difficult for Germany to consume 15 percent less gas compared to France, which has many nuclear power plants. In addition, there are also countries in the European Union such as Spain that do not actually import any gas from Russia, and therefore do not see the need to significantly reduce gas consumption.
But the Commission believes it is important for countries to show solidarity with one another in order to cushion the economic blows. The intent is for nations to come to each other’s aid in emergencies. “If everyone used 15 percent less gas, you would release gas that could be used for countries in need,” Timmermans says.
The committee presented this spring Already planning to become less dependent on Russian gas. It was agreed that EU gas stocks should be 80 per cent full by October 1.
At the moment, European gas reserves are only 60 percent full. Although the European Union has recently received less gas from Russia, Russian gas still makes up 20% of European gas imports. Russian gas is needed to replenish gas supplies, which is a major concern for European governments.
Russia’s gas supplier Gazprom closed the tap to Germany nine days ago due to “works”. But the company said this week that it would not rule out the possibility that Nord Stream 1 It is still closed at the moment. European Commissioner Johannes Hahn said yesterday that he takes into account that Russia will not export gas to the EU at all.
No problems in the Netherlands?
De Gasunie announced last week for the Netherlands There is no shortage of gas Expected if Russia stops gas exports. The Commission’s contingency plan appears to contradict this, but Jasoni is mainly looking into the situation in the Netherlands.
experts warning For some time already, the consequences for the European economy will be significant if Russia turns off the gas tap. Although the boycott of gas from Russia may not have direct consequences for the Dutch economy, it does affect German industry. If Germany ends up in economically difficult weather, this will also have dire consequences for the Netherlands.
The worst possible scenario
With this contingency plan, the Commission hopes to prepare Europe for a worst-case scenario. The plan is to ensure that homes and, for example, hospitals in this case, do not run out of power. Member states are also given a number of tips to reduce gas demand.
The Commission is asking all EU citizens to reduce their energy consumption, for example by setting the air conditioning less cool and turning off the heating in winter. Governments in member states should organize campaigns to help people save energy.
The possibility of downsizing the industry
Companies should be encouraged to consume less energy. Subsidies can help companies transition to sustainable energy. Because when everything is not enough and the energy supply is really at risk, some non-essential industries can shut down. Member states must determine for themselves whether this is necessary and, if so, which sectors should be curtailed.
Whether the gas tap in Groningen will turn on again in the event of an emergency is up to the Dutch cabinet. Minister Gettin has said repeatedly that this only happens if you leave homes or hospitals out in the cold. If a neighboring country gets into trouble, the question can also be raised whether the gas tap should be opened in Groningen.
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