Europe

Spain rejects EU proposal to slash natural gas usage by 15%

Environment minister slams Brussels for lack of debate, transparency around the plan

Alyssa McMurtry   | 20.07.2022
Spain rejects EU proposal to slash natural gas usage by 15%

MADRID

Spain on Wednesday rejected the European Commission’s demands for EU states to reduce their natural gas use by 15% by next spring in fear of Russia cutting supply to the bloc.

“Whatever happens, Spanish families will not have their gas or electricity cut. Whatever happens, Spain will defend the position of Spanish industry,” Environment Minister Teresa Ribera told a news conference.

While she said Spain “deeply regretted” having to disagree with the EU, she slammed Brussels for the lack of debate and transparency around the plan.

For the moment, the proposal only means a legally non-binding recommendation for EU member states to voluntarily reduce their gas consumption.

However, the EU Commission’s Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans said “if the situation gets worse” the European Commission will be able to ask for mandatory cuts from EU member states if the draft passes.

“Spain has done its homework in terms of diversified energy. It’s done it consistently and paying a higher price than other European partners,” Ribera said. “Every country’s situation is unique and is the result of historic efforts that have been paid for by consumers.”

Ribera explained that Spain is home to around one-third of all the EU’s liquefied natural gas storage and refining capacity and has invested heavily in alternative energy sources like renewables.

She complained that Spain has been asking the EU to live up to its commitments around energy interconnections for two decades.

“Despite this demand, there was profound inaction on the EU’s part. That’s why the Iberian Peninsula is virtually an energetic island, which also limits our ability to help other EU countries.”

She added that Spain’s energy reserves are 80% full, compared to around 50% in the rest of Europe.

“Unlike other countries, we haven’t been living above our means in terms of energy," she added.

“We want to help … but we want an honest debate instead of imposing solutions that we don’t think are fair or effective.”

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