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Gas: the EU agrees to help Germany face the Russian threat | War in Ukraine


The European Union confirmed today that it stands united and united. We have taken a huge step forward to secure the gas supply this winterdeclared the Czech Minister, Jozef Sikela, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the Council of theEU.

We will share the burden. The negotiations were not easy, but in the end everyone understood that this sacrifice was necessary. »

A quote from Jozef Sikela, Czech Minister of Industry

Hungary, however, on Tuesday denounced an agreement unjustifiable, unnecessary, unenforceable and harmful. Among the Twenty-Seven, only Budapest opposed the text, which is therefore adopted by qualified majority.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen welcomed the adoption of the plan she presented last week. Although it has been extensively overhauled.

It still provides for each country 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.

Russia represented until last year some 40% of the gas imports of theEU.

Economic weapon

In case of risk of serious shortagean alert mechanism will make binding for the Twenty-Seven the reduction of 15%, but this objective will be adapted to the realities of each country, in particular to the capacities to export the quantities of gas saved to the countries in need, thanks to a series of derogations.

This collective commitment is very significant and will help us to rebuild stocks before wintersaid Ms. Von der Leyen.

The Russian giant Gazprom announced on Monday that it would halve its daily deliveries to Europe on Wednesday via the Nord Stream gas pipeline, thus falling to only 20% of its capacity, citing a maintenance operation on a turbine.

A Kremlin spokesman said on Tuesday that the reduction in speed was due to Western sanctions imposed on Russia after the invasion of Ukraine. If it hadn’t been for these restrictions, everything would have been accomplished. […] within the usual time frame, without leading to the situation we see todayhe said.

But the Europeans refute the technical reason and accuse Moscow of using gas as an economic weapon.

A worker sweeps up debris from a Russian bombardment.

Employees clean the interior of the damaged House of Culture after nighttime attacks in Kharkiv region, Ukraine.

Photo: Getty Images/Sergey Bobok/AFP

Fighting continued in Ukraine on Tuesday, where southern regions came under Russian bombardment massive targeting in particular a seaside village near Odessa and the port of Mykolaiv, according to the Ukrainian authorities.

Reduce our gas consumption […] is the best way to react to Putin’s gas blackmailcommented the Luxembourg Minister of Energy, Claude Turmes.

The French Minister for Energy Transition, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, hailed a good deal.

Our industrial production chains are completely interdependent. If chemicals cough in Germany, then the whole European industry can stop. »

A quote from Agnès Pannier-Runacher, French Minister for Energy Transition

At the heart of the European system, the mandatory 15% reduction in consumption had aroused criticism. It aims to pool efforts in the event of an emergency to help Germany in particular.

Very dependent on Russian gas, Germany was still buying 35% of its gas in Russia at the beginning of June, a figure which had risen to 55% before the war.

However, a major shock on the first European economy would inevitably affect all of the Twenty-Seven.

Case by case

The 15% reduction in gas consumption in fact imposes constraints on countries such as France and Spain, which are nevertheless protected from a disruption in Russian supplies thanks to their energy policies. But the effort will remain greater for Germany.

She will have to do better than 15%, recognized its Minister of the Economy, Robert Habeck, while welcoming European solidarity. Berlin has made a strategic mistake in the past by cultivating this dependence on Moscow, he admitted.

According to Rome, the effort for Italy will be limited to a 7% reduction in its gas consumption, thanks to the exemptions.

Gazprom facilities.

Gazprom facilities

Photo: Getty Images/David Hecker

The plan had in recent days been the subject of strong criticism from several states. Among the most virulent: the countries of southern Europe, including Spain, where the memory of the painful austerity plans imposed by Berlin after the 2008 financial crisis is still vivid.

The Spanish Minister for Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, had judged the project unfair and ineffective.

The diplomats of the 27 heeded the grievances. It will ultimately be the Council of theEUrepresenting the Member States, and not the Commission, as the latter requested, which will trigger the binding mechanism.

The agreement provides exemptions for island states (Cyprus, Ireland, Malta), which are not interconnected to the gas networks of other countries, or for those which have exceeded their targets for filling gas tanks.

It also reduces the savings target for countries whose interconnections are limited or which need gas for certain critical industries.

All Member States have their own constraints which have been taken into accountwelcomed the Maltese Minister, Miriam Dalli.

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