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Von der Leyen says EU is ‘safe this winter,’ but worries about next year

The European Commission's president Von der Leyen held a joint press conference with the head of the International Energy Agency, Mr. Fatih Birol, warning about possible gas shortages in the winter of 2023 and presenting the IEA's conclusions on how to prevent them.

In the joint statement Von der Leyen noted that "We had a very good discussion on an energy outlook for Europe and how to deal with the unprecedented disruptions that have been caused by Russia's atrocious war. Russia has indeed cut its pipeline supplies by 80% – if you compare September of this year to September of last year. We all know that these pipeline gas cuts have added unprecedented pressure on the global energy markets, with severe knock-on effects on Europe's energy system. But I want to emphasise that despite these enormous cuts, we have been able to manage, we have been able to withstand the blackmail." She also noted that the EU might still face a gap of up to 30 billion cubic metres of gas next year.

Von der Leyen underlined that It is now time that the EU make joint purchasing a reality. She noted that there is already an Energy Platform in place, and now EU countries have to operationalise the joint purchasing mechanism. Every day of delay comes with a price tag. EU can launch the first tender for demand aggregation by the end of March. But for that, EU needs to have an agreement on the Emergency Regulation that was proposed on 18 October, and the EU needs it now, Von der Leyen noted. She also highlighted efforts for renewable energy sources and she said that renewables are the greatest potential to solve all these problems and future challenges.

"Many of the circumstances that allowed EU countries to fill their storage sites ahead of this winter may well not be repeated in 2023," Mr. Fatih Birol said. He added that an economic revival in China could also make it tougher for the EU to buy crucial liquefied natural gas.

Source: European Commission