Belgium does not agree with the European proposal to reduce gas consumption by 15 percent in the coming months. The European energy ministers will soon meet in Brussels, where they will normally give the green light to the European Commission’s plan. Europe’s intention is to better prepare all member states for winter, if Russia were to shut off the gas tap altogether.
The Commission is calling on member states to reduce gas consumption by 15% for eight months from 1 August. This proposal came quite suddenly, and soon there was criticism that there was too little consultation with the European member states themselves.
Quite a few countries have already expressed their objections and the plan has already been adjusted quite a bit, but the meeting of European ministers promises to be difficult anyway. Spain, Italy, Greece and France, among others, are not ready for the plan to save 15 percent gas, just like Belgium.
The reasoning is that Belgium is a transit country. A quarter of the gas that arrives at US remains here, while the rest is forwarded to neighboring countries.
Belgium should continue to supply the other countries to the maximum, so if we carry out the 15 percent savings effectively, it will end up entirely on the shoulders of citizens and industry, the government argues. In addition, we would have to refuse LNG tankers with liquefied gas in Zeebrugge, because there is no additional storage capacity left. All of this is politically sensitive. “We are being punished for being a transit country,” can be heard from government sources quoting the time.
Will it be an impossible task?
So it promises to be a tough meeting in Brussels. Island states such as Malta, Cyprus and Ireland are also against the plan because they are not connected to the European gas network.
“You hear from different angles that it is a mission impossible,” says Europe expert Leen De Witte in “the morning” about the plan as it is now on the table. It’s not just the usual suspects Poland or Hungary that are bothering: “it’s about more and other countries this time. You can distinguish between countries that are dependent on Russian gas and countries that are not. Opponents say that the EU made the proposal to save Germany, because that country is very dependent on Russian gas.”
Spain does not call the proposal the most effective and fair, Portugal just said ” No ” and Hungary wants to stop forwarding gas to neighboring countries from next month and even ask for more gas from Russia, De Witte gives some examples. The Czech Republic is working day and night to reach an agreement.