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Finance

EU agrees to keep cutting gas usage – but could it mean shortages?

The European Council has agreed to extend the voluntary 15% gas demand reduction target for member states for another year, allowing them to choose the measures by which they want to reach the target.

The EU Member states also maintain the option to make the reduction mandatory if there are concerns over the security of supply.

The new regulation, which covers the period from 1st April 2023 to 31st March 2024, sets a voluntary target for member states to reduce their natural gas consumption by 15%, compared to their average consumption in the period from 1st April 2017 to 31st March 2022.

Member states are also required to report data on the savings achieved every two months or every month in the case of a “Union alert”.

The Council has added a new provision to address the issue of increased gas consumption in a member state due to a coal-to-gas switch used for district heating in determining the reference gas consumption.

In response to the decision by the European Council, Swedish Minister for Energy, Business and Industry, Ebba Busch, has warned that the EU is not completely out of the energy crisis and Russia continues to use energy as a weapon.

She urged EU member states to remain united and prepared ahead of next winter.

Busch added that the EU’s overall consumption of natural gas has dropped by 19.3% between August 2022 and January 2023 and that reducing gas demand has allowed the EU to fill its storage, keep prices down and secure more energy supplies.

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