Gas reduction in the EU: Hungary denounces an “unenforceable” agreement
Hungary on Tuesday denounced an “unenforceable” agreement after a meeting in Brussels of European Union energy ministers, who agreed to reduce their gas consumption in a coordinated manner in the face of a new drastic drop in Russian deliveries. “It is an unjustifiable, unnecessary, unworkable and harmful proposal that completely ignores national interests,” Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told reporters. Among the 27, only Budapest opposed the text, adopted by qualified majority.
A reduction of 15% envisaged
The agreement provides that each country will do “everything possible” to reduce, between August 2022 and March 2023, its gas consumption by at least 15% compared to the average of the last five years over the same period. In the event of “risk of serious shortage”, an alert mechanism will make the 15% reduction “binding” for the Twenty-Seven, but this objective will be adapted to the realities of each country.
This system aims to pool the effort in the event of an emergency to help Germany in particular, which is very dependent on Russian gas. A major shock to Europe’s leading economy would inevitably have repercussions on all of the Twenty-Seven. Hence the need for solidarity.
Hungary highly dependent on Russian gas
The plan had in recent days been the subject of strong criticism from several states, particularly in southern Europe. If they finally voted for the compromise found, the Hungary of Viktor Orban, accustomed to arm wrestling with Brussels, does not take off. Peter Szijjarto called “the legal basis dubious”, saying that security of energy supply was “the responsibility of national governments”. “Is someone in Brussels going to explain to the Hungarians that there is gas in Hungary that individuals and companies cannot use? This is nonsense!”, he was carried away.
Hungary, which relies largely for its consumption on Russian oil and gas, declared mid-July “a state of emergency” in the face of the energy crisis. Contrary to the EU’s strategy to break away from Moscow, Peter Szijjarto visited Moscow last week to discuss the purchase of an additional 700 million cubic meters of gas, which would come on top of to the 4.5 billion delivered each year to Budapest before the conflict in Ukraine.
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