When the EU’s energy ministers meet today, July 26th, to discuss the Commission’s request to grant it emergency powers to force gas rationing across the block, the discussion will likely be very short.
And the answer, a firm no.
Less than 24 hours after the Commission had released its proposal, enough countries came out strongly against the measure to likely send it straight back to the Commission.
Last Wednesday, July 20th, the Commission proposed a block-wide mandatory 15% gas-use reduction as a response to the threat that Russia would cut off already reduced gas flows through the Nord Stream pipeline and other channels of delivery. Though the rationing would initially be voluntary, the Commission’s proposal also allowed it to override member states by declaring an alert “at any moment”—making rationing mandatory and allowing for redistribution of gas between countries.
Opposition emerged quickly from Spain, Greece, and Portugal.
“Let’s say we reduce [gas use] by 15%, this does not mean that more gas will go to Germany. It does not mean that there are empty pipelines that could be filled,” Greek energy minister Kostas Skrekas said Thursday on local radio, Politico reports. “It is curious how the Commission has made this announcement without serious consultation.”
From Madrid, Spain’s Ecological Transition Minister Teresa Ribera rejected Brussels’ plan as “not the most effective, nor the most efficient, nor the fairest.”
Portuguese Secretary of State for Energy and Environment João Galamba also came out roundly opposed: “we are completely against it,” he said.
Politico reports that Spain and Greece are co-authoring an opposition that could be signed by France, Italy, Paris, Rome, Malta, and Bratislava.
France initially said nothing on the proposal, but Reuters reported Monday, July 25th, that the ministry of energy had come out against it. Poland, Hungary, and the Netherlands are also opposed to the current text of the proposal.
Diplomats have told Politico that as the count stands now, there is very little possibility for the proposal to be able to gather the qualified majority of 15 countries, representing 65% of the bloc’s population, needed for approval.