The European Commission revealed its proposal on Wednesday about how member states should cut gas consumption. But what happens if some member states run out of that energy source? Can the EU take away, for example, Hungary’s gas?
According to the European Commission, the EU has to reduce gas consumption to avoid disruption and strengthen European energy resilience. Therefore, they proposed “a new legislative tool and a European Gas Demand Reduction Plan, to reduce gas use in Europe by 15% until next spring.” The plan affects “all consumers, public administrations, households, owners of public buildings, power suppliers and industry.” They all can and should take measures to save gas, the Commision believes. The Commission will also accelerate work on supply diversification, including joint purchasing of gas to strengthen the EU’s possibility of sourcing alternative gas deliveries, they wrote on Wednesday.
Based on the plan, EU member states need to reduce gas demand by 15% between 1 August 2022 and 31 March 2023. “The new Regulation would also give the Commission the possibility to declare, after consulting Member States, a ‘Union Alert’ on security of supply, imposing a mandatory gas demand reduction on all Member States. The Union Alert can be triggered when there is a substantial risk of a severe gas shortage or an exceptionally high gas demand.
Member States should update their national emergency plans by the end of September to show how they intend to meet the reduction target, and should report to the Commission on progress every two months. Member States requesting solidarity gas supplies will be required to demonstrate the measures they have taken to reduce demand domestically,” the European Commission said.
Portfolio.hu wrote that the number of countries rejecting the European Commission’s plan is increasing. Since the proposal needs a 2/3rd majority, French expert Thierry Bros believes it will not pass. He calculated that the number of states saying no would be around 40 pc. Poland, Portugal, Italy, Spain, France, Malta, Cyprus, and Greece made it clear that they would refuse to accept the EC proposal and Hungary is also expected not to vote for it.
There are growing suggestions that Europe will face an acute energy crisis in the summer. International analysts are predicting such an outcome. At the extraordinary Cabinet meeting last Wednesday, Minister Gergely Gulyás was given a question. Should Hungary bail out EU countries in an energy crisis? The minister replied that Hungary will not need help. Does that statement hold up on an international scale?
Gulyás was also asked whether to help member states in case of a crisis. The Minister said no, and when he was asked again, he elaborated.
“We will help everyone if Hungarian families and the Hungarian economy are safe, but we have no obligation to do so.”
Norbert Tóth, professor at the National University of Public Service, was asked to confirm or deny the minister’s statement. He says: “The question raised is very interesting and complex from a legal point of view. I think the point is that what the Minister said is factually correct. So there is no international treaty which says that one state has to help another state out in energy matters if it gets into trouble. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the European Union doesn’t have the means to achieve any objective that it might have in that direction.”
As we reported before, Hungarian FM Péter Szijjártó flew this week to Russia to buy more gas. He announced that Hungary would like to purchase an additional 700 million cubic metres. Read HERE the Russian foreign minister’s, Sergei Lavrov’s reaction.
Source: cc.europa.eu, index.hu, DNH, portfolio.hu