BRUSSELS, March 28 (Xinhua) -- European Union (EU) member states on Tuesday reached a political agreement to extend a voluntary 15 percent gas demand reduction target for one year.
However, the Council will retain the option of triggering a "Union alert" on the security of supply, in which case the gas demand reduction would become mandatory.
Ebba Busch, Swedish Minister for energy, business and industry, said the EU is not completely out of the energy crisis. Member states need to show solidarity and be prepared for next winter, she said.
"The overall EU consumption of natural gas has dropped by 19.3 percent between August 2022 and January 2023. Reducing our gas demand has allowed us to fill our storages, keep prices down and secure more energy supplies. It's important that we keep up the work and stay resilient," she added.
The new regulation sets a voluntary target for member states to reduce their natural gas consumption by 15 percent between April 1, 2023 and March 31, 2024, compared to their average consumption in the period between April 1, 2017 and March 31, 2022. Member states can choose which measures they use to reach the target.
In addition, member states will report back on the savings achieved at least every two months. If a "Union alert" is declared, data would be reported every month.
The regulation is an extraordinary measure which will apply for one year.