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EU energy ministers agree on gas demand reduction plan
EU energy ministers agreed in Brussels today to reduce natural gas use by 15% between 1 August 2022 and 23 March 2023. The discussion at the Extraordinary Energy Council was based on the "Save Gas for a Safe Winter" package, which had been presented by the European Commission on 20 July 2022. In accordance with the political agreement, member states are to voluntarily reduce their gas demand by 15%. If the members states announce an alert level at EU level, this gas demand reduction will become mandatory.
Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action Robert Habecksaid:
"Today’s agreement sends out a strong signal to Putin’s Russia: Europe will not be divided or blackmailed. We are responding with European solidarity and unity to Putin’s attempt to sow uncertainty. This is essential. And we are making preparations to get through the winter. The 15 percent agreed upon today is an important first step in this direction. All member states of course now need to take specific measures to reach this goal so that gas consumption will fall and we will foil Putin’s plans.
In Germany, we have already launched many of the saving measures proposed in the EU package in the last few weeks and months. The agreement reached in Brussels today thus also provides backing for us. We will continue to resolutely implement these measures step by step. In June, we launched a comprehensive energy switching campaign in Germany, supported by a broad alliance of associations representing civil society, cities and municipalities, business, the skilled crafts, and consumer protection groups. Many parts of society want to contribute to saving energy. I want to express my respect and thanks for this. We have taken numerous political measures to make this possible. A gas auction model for industrial consumption, for instance, will start at the end of this summer to provide incentives. In order to reduce gas consumption for power generation, we will increase coal-fired electricity generation for a transitional period – even if this is very painful in terms of climate action. In addition, existing renewable energy facilities should make a greater contribution to substituting gas used to generate power, especially in the field of the generation of biogas."
Federal Minister Habeck also pointed out the energy security package of 21 July 2022, which comprises further measures to save energy in companies, the residential sector and public buildings. He said: "We have been working on precautionary measures for months, which we will complement, if necessary. In addition to energy saving and the expansion of an LNG infrastructure, resolutely expanding renewable energy is the key to energy security. This is the only way to become independent from imports of fossil fuels."
During an informal lunch, EU energy ministers and Ukrainian Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko also exchanged views on security of energy supply in the fields of electricity and gas.
Federal Minister Habeck said: "We must bear in mind that there has been a war in Ukraine for more than five months now – a brutal war for the country and its inhabitants caused by Russia’s illegal aggression. And it is important that we continue to support Ukraine. Ukraine is an important partner. Apart from many other areas, we need to guarantee energy security. Connecting Ukraine to the electricity grid of continental Europe in March was an important step to this end. Further steps must follow. Ukraine can count on our solidarity and support."
Prior to the Extraordinary Energy Council, a breakfast meeting of the Pentalateral Energy Forum took place, during which security of gas supply was discussed. The Pentalateral Energy Forum is a regional cooperation between Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. It was established in 2015. The countries of the Pentalateral Energy Forum work together on a voluntary basis with the aim to better link up the electricity markets of the region.