BRUSSELS – The European Commission on Wednesday urged EU countries to reduce their demand for natural gas by 15 percent over the coming winter months to overcome Russia's energy supply "blackmail," AFP news agency reported
In a statement, the EU's executive arm also asked member states to give it special powers to force through needed demand cuts if Russia cuts the Europe's gas lifeline.
"Russia is blackmailing us. Russia is using energy as a weapon and therefore, in any event, whether it's a partial major cut off of Russian gas or total cut off... Europe needs to be ready," Commission president Ursula von der Leyen told reporters.
Von der Leyen added that Russia fully cutting off gas flows to Europe is "a likely scenario."
"We have to be proactive. We have to prepare for a potential full disruption of Russian gas. That's what we've seen in the past," von der Leyen said.
"We are preparing for the worst, and hoping for the best," she added, according to Deutsche Welle.
The emergency plan proposes that member states to engage in voluntary measures to reduce consumption.
All EU member states are asked to reduce gas demand by 15 percent between August and April. The proposal also allows Brussels the ability to trigger an emergency alert that requires mandatory gas demand reduction throughout the bloc.
"This is a signal to all public bodies, consumers, households, owners of public buildings, power suppliers and that they must now take extraordinary and rapid measures to save gas," the proposal said.