Hungary and Poland have both voted against the European Commission’s new proposal to extend a regulation that requires a 15 percent reduction in the use of natural gas from member states, said Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó at the EU Energy Council in Brussels on Tuesday.
According to a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Szijjártó said at a press conference at the summit that the European Commission has come up with a proposal that would again require a reduction in natural gas consumption instead of pursuing more worthwhile goals like investing in infrastructure.
Such a regulation was already adopted last year despite Hungarian and Polish opposition, but this one poses a greater threat to Europe’s economy. The previous reduction was during the winter period, when it is actually easier to reduce gas consumption. Although this may seem counterintuitive, gas usage during the winter includes residential and commercial building heating, and it is easier to cut gas usage for heating. In the summer, industrial consumption dominates gas consumption, and cutting gas during this period is far more difficult, even if overall consumption is lower.
Hungary is warning that extended gas cuts into the summer period will directly impact industry.
“If the use of natural gas by industry has to be artificially reduced, it means that there is a risk of a downturn in the economy,” Szijjártó underlined, while warning of security of supply problems.
“In addition, Brussels is once again stealthily taking powers away from member states, as energy use, the national energy mix and the structure of the economy are explicitly national competencies, and by imposing a reduction in gas use, they are effectively infringing on this sovereign right of member states,” Szijjártó stated.
Hungary’s top diplomat pointed out that after the first ruling, Poland had taken the case to the European Court of Justice, arguing that a unanimous vote was needed for adoption, and Hungary had joined the case on Poland’s side.
“This time we also voted against this proposal, which unfortunately was supported by everyone except the Poles and us. So, they imposed another 15 percent gas cut as an extension of the previous regulation. This, I repeat, is extremely dangerous, unreasonable and does not solve the problem,” Szijjártó warned.
“For all these reasons, Hungary did not vote in favor of this proposal, and we continue to clearly take the position that the supply of natural gas is not a political issue, that it is extremely harmful to discriminate against gas sources on political grounds, and that we should help to ensure that as much gas as possible can come to Europe from as many sources as possible,” Szijjártó said.