Most EU member states on Tuesday agreed on a plan to reduce natural gas consumption by 15% to prepare for the coming winter and potential further cuts of Russian gas supplies.
The plan was agreed upon with some exemptions as Spain, Portugal, and France rejected the initial proposal because they are not as reliant on Russian gas as other EU members. Spain and Portugal also don’t see the benefit of them rationing gas because their energy infrastructure is barely linked to the rest of Europe.
Addressing these concerns, the draft law passed on Tuesday allows exemptions for countries not as connected to other EU members’ gas networks or nations that have high storage levels.
Under the draft law, EU members would voluntarily reduce gas consumption by 15% from August through March. If the voluntary cuts don’t provide the expected savings, the rationing would then be mandatory. But Hungary, the only EU member to vote against the deal, rejected the plan and said it was “unenforceable.”
“This is an unjustifiable, useless, unenforceable and harmful proposal,” Hungary’s Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said. “We were the only ones to signal that we are voting no … given that this decree completely ignores the interests of Hungarian people.”
Hungary is highly reliant on Russian gas and is looking to purchase more to prepare for the winter. Last week, Szijjarto traveled to Moscow to negotiate a deal as the Hungarian government is looking to buy 700 million cubic meters of Russian gas.