Hungary and Poland have voted against the European Commission’s new “dangerous” proposal to extend the previous regulation by another 15 percent cut in the use of natural gas, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said in Brussels on Tuesday.
The Foreign Minister said at a press conference during the break of the EU Energy Council that instead of raising additional funds or infrastructure development, the European Commission has come up with a proposal that would again require a reduction in natural gas consumption. As he recalled, such a regulation was already adopted last year despite Hungarian and Polish protests, but this one is even more dangerous. The previous one was for a winter period when, in addition to industrial consumption, residential consumption increases for heating, making it easier to reduce than in summer, when overall consumption is lower.
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”,
Péter 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 competences, and by imposing a reduction in gas use, they are effectively infringing on this sovereign right of member states,” he pointed out.
Szijjártó also recalled that after the first decision on the reduction, Poland appealed to the European Court of Justice, arguing that a unanimous vote was needed to adopt the measure, and Hungary joined the case on that side. He added that the recent regulation could lead to a further reduction of supply in Europe, as it is a basic economic principle that if the quantity of a good decreases on a given market, its price will increase.
This proposal brings with it the risk of price rises, a threat to security of supply and an economic downturn”,
The Foreign Minister said that Hungary continues to take the clear 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 it should be helped to ensure that as much gas as possible comes to Europe from as many sources as possible.
Péter Szijjártó also pointed out that the European continent has had a particularly mild winter and everyone is happy that we have survived the last few months in terms of security of supply, but many experts warn that there is no reason for optimism, as there is a real risk of gas shortages this winter. “One reason is that there will be a shortfall of around 60 billion cubic meters of Russian gas from the European network this year compared to last year, and the Chinese economy is forecast to see a significant increase in consumption as the economy reopens, while the LNG capacity needed to make up for the shortfall has not yet been built,” he stated.
In addition, the fact that natural gas prices in Europe are now seven times higher than in the US and electricity prices three times higher than in China due to sanctions and other “misguided measures” is a serious competitive disadvantage, he said. “In this situation, the only sensible and effective solution is to increase the supply of gas to Europe,” the Foreign Minister concluded.
Featured photo via Facebook/Péter Szijjártó