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EU energy ministers today agreed on a bloc-wide winter alert system to trigger mandatory cuts in natural gas consumption at the extraordinary energy council in Brussels.
“This was not a mission impossible,” said the Czech Council presidency. “Ministers have reached a political agreement on gas demand reduction ahead of the upcoming winter.”
Only Hungary informed the Council it planned to vote against the deal during written procedure, three EU diplomats said.
The final changes, obtained by POLITICO, are here.
The version agreed on preserves a third revision debated in Tuesday’s private morning session among EU ministers, previously obtained and reported by POLITICO.
That means mandatory gas consumption cuts of 15 percent 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 supply can be held to a reduction of the savings obligation by 8 percentage points in certain circumstances. Countries that saved gas earlier than the August-to-March period can count early cuts toward the emergency target, with any gas in storage facilities in excess of EU requirements also counting toward the goal.
The only new changes are modifications to three recitals:
The wording on countries making “best efforts to preserve all electricity production capacities that do not rely on imported gas supplies” is no longer purely in reference to nuclear and renewables.
The document calls for special attention to protect consumers who use gas-based centralized heating systems in times of crisis.
A new paragraph emphasizes that countries “should be able to temporarily limit the mandatory demand reduction where needed to ensure security of gas supply, including where a Member State faces an electricity crisis.”