The European Commission demanded on Wednesday that EU countries decrease their natural gas use 15% by next spring in fear of Russia’s cutting the supply to the bloc.
“Russia is blackmailing us, Russia is using energy as a weapon,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at a news conference, presenting the EU executive body’s winter emergency plan.
According to von der Leyen, there is a “likely scenario of a full cut of gas” so “Europe needs to be ready.”
The EU Commission’s proposal “Save Gas for a Safe Winter” asks EU member states to reduce their gas demand 15% between Aug. 1, 2022 and March 31, 2023.
For the moment, the document only means a legally non-binding recommendation for EU member states to voluntarily reduce their gas consumption, the EU Commission’s Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans explained.
“But if the situation gets worse” the European Commission will be able to ask for mandatory cuts from EU member states if the draft passes, he added.
The plan aims to “avoid a full-blown crisis next winter,” Timmermans asserted.
According to the European Commission, the gas supply in 12 EU member states has already been hit by a partial or total cut as retaliation from Russia for the bloc’s sanctions.
The EU has slapped six sets of sanctions against Russia since it launched war on Ukraine on Feb. 24.
The packages target, among others, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, ban oil and coal imports, and the export of luxury goods, as well as exclude Russian and Belarusian banks from using the SWIFT international banking system.