EU Seeks 15% Reduction in Energy Use amid Fears of Winter Gas Shortage

Amid concerns about gas supply shortages this winter, the European Union plans to propose a voluntary 15% cut in natural gas use by member countries beginning next month.

With no end in sight to the tension in Eastern Europe, and fears that Russia may halt more fuel supplies, the European Commission is set to propose a demand-reduction plan on Wednesday to prepare for the possibility of a complete cutoff by Moscow, with this goal including a mandatory trigger if the situation worsens and voluntary cuts are insufficient, according to Bloomberg, citing three EU diplomats with knowledge of the matter.

This winter, the EU’s biggest challenge is ensuring enough gas for furnaces and generators. Putin signaled that Europe will get gas again through a key pipeline, but warned that unless a dispute over sanctioned sections is settled, flows will be curbed.

According to a draft commission assessment reviewed by Bloomberg News, 1.5% of the region’s GDP is at risk from a harsh winter.

“EU member states must now adopt the proposed gas demand-reduction targets and make comprehensive efforts to reduce demand wherever possible,” Bruegel think tank analyst Simone Tagliapietra said. “Governments must ask people to consume less and should have the courage to tell their citizens that Europe is in the midst of what possibly represents the greatest energy crisis in its history.”