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Brussels envisages rationing and a mandatory 15% reduction in gas consumption if Putin turns off the tap.

“I’m only here for the gas” Max Rockatansky said in Mad Max 2. On stage, the hero of the saga seems to want to help a person injured on those hellish roads. But in fact it only came on gasoline. Europe, like the mythical character played by Mel Gibson, is in search of increasingly scarce and expensive energy due to an energy crisis that has worsened since Vladimir Putin entered Ukraine on February 24. Meanwhile, hunger becomes a prelude to rationing: first voluntary and then mandatory if Putin decides to turn off the gas taps at the end of summer and leave half of Europe without heating in autumn and winter.

In the midst of this apocalyptic scenario, the European Commission presented this Wednesday a shocking plan that sets out the worst-case scenario: cutting off Russian supplies. Thus, the winter preparation plan recommends a voluntary reduction of gas in all EU countries for the next eight months – from August 1 to March 31, 2023. The goal is to reduce consumption by 15% first on a voluntary basis, and if Russian gas is cut, on a mandatory basis.

“If there is a gas disruption, we will issue a warning,” said this Wednesday the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, after a meeting of the College of Commissioners: “We propose to each member state to reduce consumption. 15%, which is equivalent to 45,000 million cubic meters of gas, and with this we will be able to get through the winter without any problems in the event of a complete cutoff of Russian gas.”

“Russia’s unjustified war against Ukraine has disrupted energy markets, causing price volatility and energy insecurity around the world, with a particular impact on the EU and its immediate neighbourhood,” the society’s executive text said: “Europe must accelerate preparations. The impact that possible further disruptions, even complete cessation, of Russian gas supplies could have. If Russia stops supplying gas to Europe, the EU economy could shrink by 1.5% of GDP, according to the Commission.

In any case, the Brussels plan must receive the approval of governments to enter into force. The 27 energy ministers meet next Tuesday in an extraordinary council, and many are uncomfortable with the idea of ​​the commission forcing countries to make cuts.

In addition, countries that are less or not dependent on Russian gas are less concerned, and countries that have already reduced consumption believe that their efforts should be taken into account. Meanwhile, the Commission insists that a coordinated EU-wide approach is needed to deal with possible gas cuts.

The plan is the European Commission’s response to “possible further disruptions to Russian gas supplies due to the upcoming winter season.”

Entitled ‘Saving gas for a safe winter’, it describes the state of the market, the tools available under current EU gas security law and the measures taken so far. “In the context of market conditions and the ongoing militarization of gas supplies by Russia,” Brussels said, the likely gap between supply and demand has been identified in the event of a complete Russian shutdown.

Therefore, the plan proposes a voluntary gas demand reduction of 15% from August 1, 2022 to March 31, 2023. To achieve this goal, it outlines various measures that Member States can take to encourage reductions in gas demand and consumption. Public sector, companies as well as households.

“By the end of September,” says Brussels, “Member States must update their national emergency plans with planned demand reduction measures to achieve this goal.” The document includes available measures to incentivize fuel switching and gas consumption reductions and presents criteria for member states to identify critical vulnerable consumers if rationing is necessary: ​​including health, food, security, refineries and defence. environmental services; cross-border supply chains, sectors or industries that provide goods and services that are important for the proper functioning of EU supply chains; damage to the facilities so that they cannot resume production without significant delays, repairs, regulatory approvals and costs; Gas reduction and product/component substitution opportunities: the extent to which the industry can switch to imported components/products and the extent to which the demand for products or components can be met by imports.

In addition, the plan is accompanied by a legislative proposal that would introduce a new emergency EU instrument to address a potential gap between supply and demand in the European gas market.

The regulation proposed by Brussels (based on Article 122 of the EU Treaty) sets out a process to “declare, after consulting the Council [los Gobiernos], warning the EU that voluntary demand reduction targets are not enough to avoid this gap. In such a situation, the Commission is empowered to impose a mandatory demand reduction target [es decir obligar a consumir menos a los Estados]”.

The Commission’s plan also talks about replacing gas with other fuels and saving global energy in all sectors: “It aims to ensure the protection of supplies to homes and key consumers, such as hospitals, as well as industries that are crucial to the supply of essential products. and EU economy, supply chain and competitiveness services. The plan provides guidelines that member states should take into account when planning reductions.”

“Switching to Coal May Be Necessary”

“By substituting gas with other fuels and saving energy this summer, more gas can be stored for the winter,” argues the European Commission: “Before considering reductions, Member States should exhaust all options for fuel substitution, planning optional savings and alternatives. source of energy. Whenever possible, priority should be given to switching to renewable energy or cleaner, less polluting or lower carbon options.”

“However,” says Brussels, “switching to coal, oil or nuclear may be necessary as a temporary measure. Market measures can reduce risks to society and the economy. For example, Member States can introduce auction or tender systems to encourage energy reduction by industry. Member States may offer public support in accordance with the State Aid Crisis Temporary Framework adopted by the Commission.

Source: El Diario





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