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EU emergency gas plan in force to prepare for possible shortages

The European Union's emergency gas plan preparing the bloc for a possible halt in Russian gas supplies came into force on Tuesday.

The European Union’s emergency gas plan preparing the bloc for a possible halt in Russian gas supplies came into force on Tuesday.

Under the plan, EU countries are to reduce their gas consumption voluntarily by 15% between August 1 and March 31, compared to the average consumption in the same period during the past five years.

The move was sparked by Moscow’s recent drastic reductions in gas deliveries to the EU in recent months amid Russia’s war on Ukraine. There are fears that supplies could be cut off entirely.

To reach the target, 45 billion cubic meters of gas must be saved overall, and Germany alone must reduce consumption by around 10 billion cubic meters, according to EU Commission figures.

If not enough gas is saved and there are wide-ranging supply shortages, the EU will be able to trigger a bloc-wide alert with mandatory targets to cut gas usage.

However, the bar is high for such a step. It would require the agreement of at least 15 EU countries representing at least 65% of the bloc’s total population.

Several countries, including Spain and Italy, have negotiated exemptions from the binding target and plan to reduce their consumption by less than 15%. The emergency plan is initially in place for a year.

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