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In this file photo taken on June 24, 2022 a burning hob of a gas cooker is pictured in Gaiberg near Heidelberg, south-western Germany. — AFP pic

Friday, 05 Aug 2022 11:39 PM MYT

BRUSSELS, Aug 5 — A European Union plan to cut gas use and help Germany wean itself off dependency on Russia will come into effect early next week, the bloc’s presidency said today.

Last week, EU member states agreed to reduce their use of gas by 15 per cent over the winter, with exceptions for some countries and despite opposition from Hungary.

Officials have since been working on the legal texts of the plan, which will be voluntary unless the member states agree to give the European Commission emergency powers.

The EU’s rotating presidency, held by the Czech Republic, announced today the Council of the European Union — which represents member states — had formally adopted the plan.

“The text will be published in the Official Journal at the beginning of next week and will enter into force one day after the publication,” the presidency said.

A diplomatic source told AFP that publication would take place on Monday and the plan would come into effect on Tuesday.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February the EU has imposed a series of economic sanctions packages on Moscow, including a partial ban on oil imports.

But Germany, the EU’s economic powerhouse, is hugely dependent on Russian gas. Berlin takes a major share of the 40 per cent of EU gas imports that came from Russia last year.

Russian gas is therefore not subject to sanctions, but Moscow has dramatically cut supplies anyway, in what Brussels sees as an attempt to blackmail the EU for concessions.

The plan for all member states to cut gas use is designed to combat rising prices and lower the pressure on member states like Germany which are struggling to find alternative energy sources. — AFP