< p class="sc-v64krj-0 knjbxw">Gazprom is a Russian energy giant that supplies many countries with natural gas.
The drastic new cut in gas supplies announced by Gazprom is “further proof” that the x27;Europe must “reduce its dependence as soon as possible” on Russia, said on Tuesday the Czech Minister of Energy, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU).
Unity and solidarity are the best weapons we have against (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and I am sure that is what we will show today, said Jozef Sikela, before a meeting in Brussels with his 27 counterparts to agree on an EU gas consumption reduction plan.
Gazprom announced on Monday that it would drastically reduce deliveries of Russian gas to Europe via the Nord Stream gas pipeline to 33 million cubic meters a day from Wednesday, citing the need for maintenance of a turbine, i.e. about 20% of the pipeline's capacity.
The European Commission had proposed last week to reduce European gas demand by 15% from August , in order to overcome the fall in Russian deliveries and pass the winter without major disasters. Russia accounted for some 40% of EU gas imports until last year.
The Brussels plan, which is to be discussed by member states on Tuesday, provides that each country will have to do everything possible to reduce, between August 2022 and March 2023, its gas consumption by at least 15% compared to the average of the last five years over the same period.
In the event of a risk of a serious shortage, an alert mechanism would make the 15% reduction binding on the Twenty-Seven.
This last measure aims to pool the effort in the event of an emergency to help Germany in particular, which is very dependent on Russian gas. A major shock to Europe's largest economy would inevitably affect all of the Twenty-Seven. Hence the need for solidarity.
But this plan, supported by Berlin, has been the subject of strong criticism from several states, including Poland and Spain, but also Italy, Greece, Portugal.
Diplomats from the 27 worked on the Commission's proposal and amended it extensively in the hope of an agreement from member states on Tuesday, according to a version of the text seen by AFP.
This proposal provides that it is the Council of the EU, representing the Twenty-Seven, and not the Commission which decides on the possible implementation of ;binding targets.
This 15% target would also be adapted to the particular situation of each country through a series of exemptions, taking into account in particular the level of storage achieved and the possibility of exporting the gas saved to other countries. However, some diplomats have expressed concern that these derogations will reduce the European effort.
Member countries have different issues, but in the end I expect that we have a political agreement, said Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson on Tuesday as she arrived at the meeting.