VILNIUS - The European Commission's recommendation to member states to cut their gas consumption by 15 percent within eight months is a "temporary but timely step" that will allow surviving the winter without Russian gas, European Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius says.
"Russia is undoubtedly preparing another winter gift for Europe in the form of cuts to gas supplies or their suspension. There's no illusion it could be otherwise. It's impossible to replace the whole amount of Russian gas today with non-Russian gas, therefore, we need to not only look for more gas today, but we should also start saving it," the European commissioner for environment, oceans and fisheries told BNS on Wednesday.
For now, he says said, member states are being urged to save voluntarily, but if an emergency is declared, the recommendations would become binding for all EU member states.
"If one or more countries face gas shortages, the Commission will coordinate additional gas supplies from countries with larger reserves, just the way it happened when Russia cut gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria. The pandemic was managed in solidarity and the gas crisis also has to be managed in solidarity," the commissioner said.
If no measures are taken to prevent a gas shortage, in the worst-case scenario, the EU's GDP could drop 1.5 percent, Sinkevicius says, adding that in the worst-case scenario, the Commission would ask Lithuania to share gas with countries in the Baltic region.
"In a critical situation, the LNG terminal in Lithuania could become an energy security guarantee for the whole region," the EC member said.
The Baltic states could use this gas crisis to step up the synchronization of their power grids with the European networks, Sinkevicius says: "I do know that Lithuania is rather well-prepared, Latvia and Estonia should also move faster. I think the political momentum is now right for this".
Earlier on Wednesday, the EC urged EU member states to cut their gas consumption by 15 percent until next spring to protect from Russia's "blackmail" through the disruption of energy supplies.