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EU to extend voluntary 15% gas demand reduction target

Following an EU energy council meeting on Tuesday (28 March), the bloc’s energy ministers have reached a political agreement on a proposal to extend the Member States’ voluntary 15 per cent gas demand reduction target, for one year.

The regulation maintains the possibility for the Council to trigger a ‘Union alert’ on the security of supply, in which case the gas demand reduction would become mandatory.

“The EU is not completely out of the energy crisis and Russia continues to use energy as a weapon. EU member states need to stand solidary and be prepared ahead of next winter. The overall EU consumption of natural gas has dropped by 19.3 per cent between August 2022 and January 2023,” said Ebba Busch, Swedish Minister for Energy, Business and Industry. “Reducing our gas demand has allowed us to fill our storages, keep prices down and secure more energy supplies. It’s important that we keep up the work and stay resilient.”

The voluntary target to reduce natural gas consumption by 15 per cent will last from 1 April 2023 to 31 March 2024, compared to their average consumption in the period between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2022. Member States can choose the measures by which they want to reach the target.

In addition, the EU energy ministers agreed to modified reporting rules. Member States will keep reporting data on the savings achieved, at least every two months, with the possibility of submitting the reports earlier. If a Union alert is declared, they would report the data every month. Member States may, if they wish to, report the breakdown of energy consumption per sector.

The energy council also added a new provision to address a specific issue of increased consumption of gas in a member state due to a coal-to-gas switch used for district heating, in determining the reference gas consumption.

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