Flags of the member states of the European Union in front of the EU-commission building "Berlaymont" in Brussels, Belgium (Christian Lue/Unsplash)

EU chief warns of potential cut-off of Russian gas

Plan seeks to reduce gas use in Europe by 15%

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen has proposed a plan to ration natural gas and said that the European Union has to prepare for what she considers the “likely scenario” of a complete cut-off of Russian gas due to the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Russia is blackmailing us,” von der Leyen said during a news conference in Brussels this Wednesday. “Russia is using energy as a weapon. And therefore, in any event, whether it is partial, major cut off Russian, or total cut off Russian gas, Europe needs to be ready.”

The proposed plan – entitled the European Gas Demand Reduction Plan – seeks to reduce gas use in Europe by 15% until next spring.

It would also give the EC the possibility to declare a ‘Union Alert’ on the security ofsupply, imposing a mandatory gas demand reduction on all Member States.

“Taking action now can reduce both the risk and the costs for Europe in case of further or full disruption, strengthening European energy resilience,” the EC says.

However, the plan will require approval from a majority of Member States to be implemented.

“If worst comes to worst, then we have to be prepared,” said von der Leyen, adding that “it is very important to have a European overview and a coordinated approach to a potential complete cut off of Russian gas.”

“We have to prepare for a potential full disruption of Russian gas,” added the EC president. “And this is a likely scenario.”

The Portuguese government has yet to react. In May, minister of foreign affairs José Cravinho said that Portugal would have “no problem closing the tap on Russian gas” if necessary – although data from the national board of energy and geology (DGEG) shows that Russia is the third largest exporter of gas to Portugal, right after Nigeria and USA.

By Michael Bruxo

michael.bruxo@portugalresident.com