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EU energy ministers today agreed on a bloc-wide winter warning system to trigger mandatory cuts in natural gas consumption at the EU’s extraordinary council energy in Brussels.
“It was not an impossible mission” said the Czech Presidency of the Council. “Ministers reached a political agreement on reducing gas demand before next winter.”
Only Hungary has informed the Council that it plans to vote against the deal in the written procedure, three EU diplomats said.
The latest changes, obtained by POLITICO, are here.
The agreed version preserves a third revision debated in Tuesday’s morning private session between EU ministers, previously obtained and reported by POLITICO.
This means that the mandatory 15% gas consumption reductions can only be activated by a vote of the Council, with special exemptions for island states.
Countries whose gas interconnections with neighbors are too small to meaningfully share much of the supply may be required to reduce the savings obligation by 8 percentage points under certain circumstances. Countries that saved gas before the August-March period can count early reductions towards the emergency target, with any gas in storage facilities exceeding EU requirements also counting towards the target.
The only new changes are modifications to three recitals:
The wording that countries do “the best they can to preserve all electricity generating capacity that is not dependent on imported gas supply” no longer only refers to nuclear and renewables.
The document calls for special attention to protect consumers who use gas-fired district heating systems in times of crisis.
A new paragraph stresses that countries “should be able to temporarily limit mandatory demand reduction where necessary to ensure security of gas supply, including when a Member State is facing an electricity crisis “.