EU Draws Up Energy Plan In Case Of Russian Gas Cutoff

The European Union’s head office on Wednesday proposed that member states cut their gas use by 15% over the coming months as the bloc braced for a possible full Russian cutoff of natural gas supplies that could add a big chill to the upcoming winter.

While the initial cuts would be voluntary, the Commission also asked for the power to impose mandatory reductions across the bloc in the event of an EU-wide emergency caused by what Commission President Ursula von der Leyen saw as a deliberate attempt by President Vladimir Putin to weaponize gas exports.

“Russia is blackmailing us. Russia is using energy as a weapon. And therefore, in any event, whether it’s a partial major cutoff of Russian gas or total cutoff of Russian gas, Europe needs to be ready,” von der Leyen said.

EU member states will discuss the measures at an emergency meeting of energy ministers next Tuesday. For them to be approved, national capitals would have to consider yielding some of their powers over energy policy to Brussels.

“We have to be proactive. We have to prepare for a potential full disruption of Russian gas. And this is a likely scenario. That’s what we’ve seen in the past,” von der Leyen said, adding that Kremlin-controlled Gazprom showed scant interest in market forces and instead played a political game to choke off the EU.

Saving 15% on gas use between August and next March will not come all that easy. The European Commission signaled its proposed target would require EU countries as a whole to triple the rationing achieved to date since the Russian invasion of Ukraine started Feb. 24.

“EU-level savings so far have been equal to 5%,” EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said. “This is clearly not enough.”

Wednesday’s proposal comes at a time when a blog post from the International Monetary Fund has warned about the weaknesses of the 27-nation bloc.

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