ARCHIV - 08.03.2022, Sachsen-Anhalt, Bad Lauchstädt: David Scheller, Standortmeister, geht am Verdichter des Untergrund-Gasspeichers der VNG AG entlang. Im Fall eines Gasnotstands sollen EU-Staaten nach dem Willen der Europäischen Kommission zum Gassparen gezwungen werden können. (zu dpa: «EU-Kommission will im Notfall Sparzwang für Gas») Foto: Jan Woitas/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

In the event of a gas emergency, EU states should be able to be forced to save gas, according to the will of the European Commission. Specifically, the Brussels authority proposed on Wednesday that binding reduction targets should be possible if not enough is saved voluntarily.

First of all, the EU countries should voluntarily do everything they can to reduce their consumption in the coming months by 15 percent compared to the average of the past five years.

The European Union is preparing for a possible gas crisis in Europe. This Wednesday, the EU Commission in Brussels will present an emergency plan on how to react to gas supply failures. According to a preliminary draft, which was made public before the meeting, the Commission has drawn up proposals as to which industries would be supplied with gas in addition to the sheltered households in an emergency.

Drafts of the plan envisage, among other things, that public buildings, offices and commercial buildings should be heated to a maximum of 19 degrees and cooled down to no less than 25 degrees with air conditioning, provided that this is technically possible. In general, consumers, like other consumers of gas, are called upon to save.

In general, there are already uniform rules in the EU for the event of a gas emergency, which are anchored in the so-called SoS regulation. This regulates, for example, which customers should still be supplied with gas in an emergency. Households and essential social services are given special treatment as protected consumers. They enjoy a special status and can be given priority by the member countries.

Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) had already made it clear that in the event of a gas shortage, all consumers would have to make contributions to save energy. Exactly how this will be implemented is not yet clear.

The Commission’s draft suggests that companies should already reduce their gas consumption or switch to other energy sources. Companies could receive financial incentives for this.

According to the currently applicable EU rules, industry is generally not considered a protected consumer in an emergency, for example, and its supply would be shut down in the worst case. Theoretically, German industry would have to sell gas to households in a neighboring country like Austria if the country cannot supply itself in any other way and Germany also has no other supplies.

Conversely, German households would be supplied by the industry of neighboring countries if the worst came to the worst. This would be the very last resort and would probably only occur if gas became scarce in several countries at the same time. The exact modalities would then have to be worked out.

There are already member states that do not want to follow the rules. Last week, Hungary declared a state of emergency and announced that it would no longer supply gas and other energy sources to other EU countries from August. The EU Commission is currently examining this step.

According to a draft of the new emergency plan – if voluntary measures are no longer sufficient – in case of doubt, mandatory savings targets can be specified in order to ensure the supply of private households and other consumers who require special protection – such as hospitals – in all EU countries.