EU countries reach agreement on 15% gas reduction this winter
The EU Council confirms that the bloc has made a decision to prolong its anti-Russian sanctions over the war in Ukraine for six months.
The European Union member states have reached a political agreement on a voluntary reduction of gas demand by 15% this winter, the Council of the European Union announced on Tuesday.
In a statement, the Council said that "in an effort to increase EU security of energy supply, member states today reached a political agreement on a voluntary reduction of natural gas demand by 15% this winter."
The Council pointed out that the regulation also "foresees the possibility to trigger a ‘Union alert’ on security of supply, in which case the gas demand reduction would become mandatory."
The EU countries agreed to reduce their gas demand between August 1 and March 31 "with measures of their own choice," the statement mentioned.
"Whereas all EU countries will use their best efforts to meet the reductions, the Council specified some exemptions and possibilities to request a derogation from the mandatory reduction target, in order to reflect the particular situations of member states and ensure that the gas reductions are effective in increasing security of supply in the EU," the Council said.
According to the Council, the EU countries that are not interconnected to gas networks of other member states are "exempted from mandatory gas reductions as they would not be able to free up significant volumes of pipeline gas to the benefit of other member states."
The statement indicated that "the Commission shall present a proposal to trigger a ‘Union alert’ in case of a substantial risk of a severe gas shortage or an exceptionally high gas demand, or if five or more member states that have declared an alert at national level request the Commission to do so."
In addition, the Council mentioned that this regulation is an exceptional measure and will be in force for a limited time.
"It will therefore apply for one year and the Commission will carry out a review to consider its extension in light of the general EU gas supply situation, by May 2023," the Council said.
Germany's Economy Minister Robert Habeck claimed that the agreement would show Russian President Vladimir Putin that Europe remained united despite gas cuts.
"You will not split us," Habeck said.
Two EU officials noted that Hungary was the only country that opposed the deal.
EU renews economic anti-Russian sanctions for 6 more months
In a similar context, the EU Council confirmed that the bloc has made a decision to prolong its anti-Russian sanctions over the war in Ukraine for six months.
"The Council today decided to prolong by six months, until 31 January 2023, the restrictive measures targeting specific sectors of the economy of the Russian Federation," the Council announced in a statement.
Earlier, Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of the Russian Security Council, described Europe’s policy toward Russia as a "repulsive cocktail of arrogant rudeness, adolescent infantility, and primitive stupidity."
On his Telegram channel, Medvedev considered that the European Union will have to bear the consequences of imposing anti-Russian sanctions.
The Russian official considered that Europeans have only just now realized that "winter hasn’t been canceled while alternative supplies of gas, oil, and coal are expensive or just not realistic."
Medvedev underlined that Europeans are scared of "freezing in their cold home" but insist on providing Ukraine with weapons.