Gas emergency plan presented: EU Commission wants to force member states to save gas – which consumers and companies are now faced with

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    The EU Commission is preparing for a tough gas winter. She is calling on her member countries to save on this precious raw material. Who does not sprint, should be forced. This is behind the EU gas emergency plan.

    The European Union is preparing for a possible gas crisis. “We have to prepare for a complete disruption of Russian gas supplies,” said EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen. On Wednesday, she presented an emergency plan that states that states should be forced to save gas when in doubt. Should it come into force, it would probably have noticeable effects.

    Consequences for consumers:

    The proposed law states that the EU states are free to choose suitable measures themselves. Exactly how savings are made on the consumer side is therefore not specified. However, it is very likely that citizens will also have to save gas. Because the savings targets are high. Initially on a voluntary basis, gas consumption in the EU countries is to be reduced by 15 percent. However, the draft regulation emphasizes that so-called protected customers should be supplied “uninterruptedly”.

    In general, there are already uniform rules in the EU for the event of a gas emergency, which are anchored in the so-called SOS regulation. This regulates, for example, which customers should still be supplied with gas in an emergency: Households and essential social services are given special treatment as protected consumers. They enjoy a special status and can be given priority by the member countries.

    In one point, however, there will probably be less impact on the people in the country than initially thought. In an earlier draft, it was envisaged that public buildings, offices and commercial buildings should be heated to a maximum of 19 degrees and cooled down to no less than 25 degrees with air conditioning. This is no longer found in the proposals presented on Wednesday.

    Consequences for companies:

    The Commission’s draft, which the EU states still have to agree to, stipulates, among other things, that companies should switch to other energy sources. Companies could receive financial incentives for this. If the supply situation becomes very critical, the gas tap could be turned off in certain sectors of the economy. However, the proposed law stipulates that certain areas should be protected. In the case of austerity measures, for example, attention should be paid to whether these would affect supply and supply chains or cause long-term damage to industrial plants.

    The Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) welcomed the plan in principle. “The EU Commission is on the right track with its gas plan: We can only get through next winter through fast and pragmatic gas savings,” said Achim Dercks, Deputy DIHK General Manager. He demands financial incentives from the federal government and that the switch from gas to other energy sources be simplified bureaucratically.

    According to applicable EU rules, German industry would theoretically have to sell gas to households in a neighboring country like Austria if the country cannot supply itself in any other way and Germany also has no other supplies. Conversely, German households would be supplied by the industry of neighboring countries if the worst came to the worst. This would be the very last resort and would probably only occur if gas became scarce in several countries at the same time. The exact modalities still have to be worked out.

    Consequences for EU countries:

    You have to develop measures to save gas. If the proposal becomes a reality in its current form, they are also obliged to do so. If an EU state then refuses, the Commission can sue it before the European Court of Justice (ECJ). This can result in penalties being due.

    EU Commission investigates Hungary’s gas policy

    There are already member states that do not want to comply with the EU rules that are already in force. Last week, Hungary declared a state of emergency and announced that it would no longer supply gas and other energy sources to other EU countries from August. The EU Commission is currently examining this step.

    For Germany, Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck (Greens) welcomed the EU Commission’s plan. “We must therefore strengthen our provision together,” he said. A crucial lever is to reduce gas consumption. “We all have to work on that with all our might.”