The Greek government would oppose a European Union proposal to voluntarily cut gas usage by 15% beginning next month to mitigate a possible halt of supplies from Russia, two officials said on Thursday.
On Wednesday, the European Commission asked member states to slash their gas use over the coming months to avoid a big disruption of industries next winter.
“The government does not agree in principle with the Commission’s proposal for a 15% reduction in natural gas consumption,” government spokesperson Yiannis Oikonomou said at a press briefing. “We have submitted proposals and we continue to maintain that this direction can provide solutions.”
Speaking earlier on Skai television, Energy Minister Kostas Skrekas said that 70% of the natural gas imported by Greece is used to generate electricity, which means that any cuts would hit households and businesses. He also said Greece has already expressed its disagreement with the proposal and “has taken all the necessary actions” to ensure supplies.
Similar reactions have been expressed by other southern European nations, with the Spanish government announcing that it does not intend to ask citizens to limit their gas consumption.
In particular, Spanish Energy Minister Teresa Ribera said in comments to local radio station Cadena SER that Madrid will not introduce a law with the obligation to set the temperature on thermostats in homes to a specific level. The government will propose that citizens try to save energy, she said, adding that the government will also protect the gas consumption of industries.
Similar sentiments were also echoed in Portugal, where Deputy Energy Minister Joao Galamba told the Public newspaper that Lisbon “will oppose this ‘disproportionate’ measure.” The Commission’s proposal, he stressed, has not been adapted for countries that are not interconnected to the gas grid like Portugal.