EU energy ministers will try to reach an agreement on Tuesday

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European Union energy ministers will try on Tuesday to reach a political agreement on Brussels’ plan to cut gas consumption by 15 percent, a solution proposed to counteract a possible stoppage of deliveries by Russia. The subject will be discussed in an extraordinary council of energy ministers, but consensus is not guaranteed, informs Digi24.

Last week, the European Commission presented a plan that generated controversy among member states, as evidenced by the meeting at the level of permanent ambassadors to the EU that took place on Friday, said diplomatic sources cited by the Spanish agency EFE. Diplomatic representatives of the member countries were meeting again on Monday in an attempt to reconcile their positions before Tuesday’s extraordinary council of energy ministers.

Spain was the first country to reject Brussels’ proposal, a position that was later joined by other countries, such as Portugal and Greece. Since then, many states have raised objections, for one reason or another, including France. Germany, on the other hand, highly dependent on gas imports from Russia, spoke in favor of Brussels’ proposal from the first day.

Despite the “open problems” that persist, the relevant European ministers are confident that they will be able to reach a political agreement on Tuesday for a European regulation in this regard, said the sources cited by EFE.

Brussels proposed in the plan presented on July 20, first of all, a voluntary reduction in gas consumption to improve strategic reserves and, if the situation worsens, mandatory reductions.

Compromise proposals to the European Commission’s plan

The Czech Republic, which presides over the EU Council in the current semester, is currently leading the negotiations between the member states related to the EC proposal, in which some changes were introduced compared to the original text, diplomatic sources said. In the latest version of the text, although the objective of a 15 percent reduction in gas consumption is maintained, changes were introduced that would allow countries to request exemptions for a number of reasons, such as geographic location. The goal is

“to allow a moderation of consumption reduction”

in exchange for the commitment of the countries to increase as much as possible the transfer of energy between the member states.

Another change compared to the initial proposal is that there will be five member states (and not just the Commission, as the first proposal stipulated) that will be able to request the declaration of a state of alert, which will trigger the obligation to reduce gas consumption.

But, in any case, both if the EC asks for it, and if it is the initiative of five member states, the declaration of the state of alert can only be made with the support of a qualified majority of the countries, states EFE, taken over by Agerpres.

Problems preventing a consensus

Although there is progress in the negotiations, there are still

“a series of open issues, some of a legal nature, others of a political or ethical nature”

which the member states continue to debate, including the particular situation of islands, such as Malta, which do not have energy connections.

Regarding Spain’s position at Tuesday’s meeting, the country

“has a fundamental commitment”

towards solidarity, but says that this solidarity must be

“efficient and proportionate”.

“We are convinced that we must remain united, in an efficient and proportionate way. We cannot speed things up and adopt measures that are not well calibrated. The key element is unity, because if we appear divided, that will be in favor of Russia’s interests.”

said the sources cited by EFE.

On the other hand, ministers will talk on Tuesday in the Council about the security of energy supply and possible measures to induce consumers to reduce their demand. In particular, the mentioned sources explained how it is intended to stimulate the reduction of the demand of protected consumers (which include the health sector or education), what measures can be applied to ensure a stable supply and how to resort to additional measures.

At a working lunch on Tuesday, European ministers will also hold a videoconference with Ukraine’s energy minister to discuss measures to strengthen energy security and the country’s electricity and gas markets.