26 Jul 2022, 13:18
Julian Wettengel

EU gas savings deal “signal of unity” as Gazprom cuts flows again – econ min

Clean Energy Wire

An agreement by EU countries to curb gas use during the coming winter is a signal of unity and solidarity in the face of the current energy crisis, said German economy minister Robert Habeck. “It shows that Europe stays united and it is giving a strong signal to Putin and to Russia at a time when flows through Nord Stream 1 are reduced to 20 percent: You won’t split us,” said Habeck at an extraordinary meeting of EU energy ministers in Brussels. Central and Eastern Europe, including Germany, has “blindly relied on cheap, eternally flowing Russian gas for too long,” said the minister, and emphasised the need for solidarity now. “We must stand together.” Germany depends on gas coming from Norway, from the Netherlands, or from the liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals in Belgium, but also passes it on to other countries, said Habeck. “When we guarantee gas security, we will never guarantee it only for Germany, but always also for neighbouring countries, and all the way to Ukraine.”

Following an earlier proposal by the European Commission, member states agreed to cut their gas use by 15 percent from August 2022 to March 2023, just one day after Gazprom said it would again reduce gas deliveries through the crucial pipeline Nord Stream 1, which connects Russia and Germany. The plan, intended to prepare the bloc for the coming winter as worries about a full halt of Russian supplies loom large, had faced resistance from a range of countries and thus the final deal includes several exemptions for countries and industries. Habeck commented on some of these: “It makes sense not to declare certain gas consumption that is necessary for critical infrastructure – for food production, for example – as a general savings mass.”

German industry association BDI welcomed the emergency plan as “an important step for European solidarity” and emphasised that the energy crisis could only be solved together. “Germany and Europe are facing a long-term gas shortage,” said Wolfgang Niedermark, member of the executive board. “This test case for European solidarity must show Putin that the EU will stand together in an emergency.” Germany itself has to make available as much energy as possible from all available sources, which would also send an important signal to help curb rising energy prices, he said.

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