EU tells member states to cut gas use further

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The European Commission will tell EU member states to continue to reduce their gas consumption next winter after meeting a previous energy-saving target, a senior EU official said on Thursday.

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Faced with sky-high energy bills after Russia invaded Ukraine last year, the 27-member bloc agreed in July to cut gas usage between August 2022 and March 2023 by 15 percent compared to the average of the previous five years.

The drop in usage actually exceeded the “voluntary” target because of warmer-than-expected weather and high costs that pushed consumers to use less energy.

EU statistics agency Eurostat said gas consumption in the EU fell by 19.3 percent between August and January, compared to the same period between 2017 and 2022, but now Brussels wants to do more.

“We should be under no illusion that things are getting easy,” the EU’s energy commissioner, Kadri Simson, told the European Parliament.

Member states should again reduce demand by 15 percent, she said.

Any proposal must be approved by 27 member states.

“This has worked well and it’s the best guarantee to achieve an adequate level of storage by November,” Simson added.

She also called on some member states to stop buying Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG), even if it is not subject to sanctions.

“I think that we can and should get rid of Russian gas completely as soon as possible,” she said, urging companies and countries not to renew expired Russian contracts.

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