The countries of the European Union (EU) try to get Brussels to soften the plan so that it reduces its gas consumption by 15% between August and March. The target would be voluntary, but the Commission could make it mandatory in the event of a gas supply emergency.
Brussels has urged countries to cut back on gas use now to help fill the deposits before winter, and has warned that a complete cut off of Russian gas is likely. However, the EU plan has faced resistance from a number of governments, including the Spainsome of whom are adamantly opposed to mandatory cuts and others who are unwilling to let Brussels control their energy consumption.
Diplomats from EU countries are discussing a revised proposal on Monday, before the ministers of Energy try to come to an agreement on it on Tuesday. The proposal, seen by Reuters, would maintain the voluntary target for all countries to cut their gas consumption, but would offer a number of exemptions to the binding target.
Some diplomats from EU countries have welcomed the latest proposal as the basis for an agreement, while others have expressed concern that, with so many exemptions, Europe will not be able to save enough gas to pass the winter if Russia cuts off the supply. One diplomat said the goal was to ensure that countries show their solidarity agreeing to act together, while ensuring that the proposal was not weakened so much that it became a dead letter.
Under the proposal drafted by the Czech Republic, which is currently chairing meetings of EU countries, countries without connections to EU gas networks would be exempt, which could include island countries such as Ireland Y malt.
Those with large volumes of gas in storage could face lower targets for curbing demand, as could states that export gas to other countries, likely to include Spain, which does not depend on Russia for gas and has been one of the staunchest opponents of the EU proposal. Critical sectors such as chemicals and steel could also be exempted.
The new proposal puts national governments, and not the Commission, in charge of the process to make the target binding, which could only be done with majority support from countries.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.