EU countries have agreed to a 15% cut in gas supplies to maintain storage levels in the face of further supply reductions from Russia.
President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said: "Today, the EU has taken a decisive step to face down the threat of a full gas disruption by Putin. I strongly welcome the endorsement by Council of the Council Regulation on coordinated demand reduction measures for gas.
"The political agreement reached by Council in record time, based on the Commission's proposal “Save gas for a safe winter” tabled last week, will ensure an orderly and coordinated reduction of gas consumption across the EU to prepare for the coming winter. It complements all the other actions taken to date in the context of REPowerEU, notably to diversify sources of gas supply, speed up the development of renewables and become more energy efficient."
The possibility to declare a state of EU alert triggering compulsory gas consumption reductions across the Member States provides a strong signal that the EU will do whatever it takes to ensure its security of supply and protect its consumers, be it households or industry, she added.
"By acting together to reduce the demand for gas, taking into account all the relevant national specificities, the EU has secured the strong foundations for the indispensable solidarity between Member States in the face of the Putin's energy blackmail," she said.
Russian state-backed energy group Gazprom said on Monday that flows on the Nord Stream 1 (NS1) pipeline would plummet to 33mn cubic metres from Wednesday, claiming turbine maintenance issues, which sent European gas prices up around 20% in 48 hours.
"The announcement by Gazprom that it is further cutting gas deliveries to Europe through Nord Stream 1, for no justifiable technical reason, further illustrates the unreliable nature of Russia as an energy supplier," added von der Leyen. "Thanks to today's decision, we are now ready to address our energy security at European scale, as a Union."
Nord Stream completed all planned maintenance works on its twin gas pipelines and gas transmission resumed on July 21. It said maintenance activities have been closely coordinated with its upstream and downstream partners.