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EU president calls for ‘compulsory’ energy rationing to ‘flatten the curve’

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has called for the implementation of ‘compulsory’ energy rationing across the EU during peak hours to ‘flatten the curve’ of demand in the middle of the largely self-inflicted energy crisis hitting the bloc.

In an incredibly poor PR move, EU President Ursula von der Leyen recalled the early days of China’s coronavirus crisis when citizens around the world were asked to agree to a brief period of lockdown for ” flatten the curve” of Covid infections, although that was ultimately proven wrong, with two weeks quickly turning into more than two years of restrictions for many people across Europe and beyond.

During a speech on Wednesday proposing energy rationing measures to be put in place ahead of the winter months when demand peaks, the EU president said: “During peaks in demand, expensive gas comes in on the market. So what we need to do is flatten the curve to avoid peaks in demand, we will come up with a mandatory peak hour electricity consumption reduction target and we will work closely with Member States to get there to arrive at.

“These are difficult times and they are not over anytime soon,” von der Leyen said. “But I am convinced that the Europeans have the economic strength, the political will and the unity to keep the upper hand.”

The use of the same rhetoric in the early stages of the Wuhan virus outbreak bodes ill given that there does not appear to be an end in sight to the energy crisis gripping the mainland, which means that Energy rationing could become another “new normal” that citizens will be forced to accept.

Indeed, at the end of last month, Ben van Beurden, the chief executive of multinational oil and gas company Shell, warned that Europe would face years of shortages, saying: “We may well have a number of winters where we will have to find solutions.”

Energy rationing proposals have already been made by several member states, including France, Italy and Germany. President Emmanuel Macron, who has warned that France faces the “end of plenty”, this week urged citizens to limit their energy consumption to prevent future government-imposed rationing, reflecting similar statements by outgoing Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

Things will only get worse for the EU, with Vladimir Putin shutting down the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, with Russian officials blaming Western sanctions on Moscow as an excuse for the shutdown. Even before the real crisis of the winter months, protests across Germany have already erupted against government sanctions against Russia, including Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s decision to shut down the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline earlier this year.

It is doubtful that such protests will move the government, however, with the foreign minister Annalena Baerbock said last week that the coalition government will continue to support Ukraine’s war effort “no matter what [the] The German voter thinks.

In addition to proposing mandatory energy rationing, the Commission will also propose several other measures to tackle the growing crisis, von der Leyen said, including putting in place a price cap on gas imported into the bloc from Russia. .

“Russia is manipulating our energy markets and we are facing astronomical prices,” she said justifying the move, ignoring years of reckless green policies that failed to achieve energy independence. .

Setting a price limit, however, could backfire, as Russia could choose to sell its fossil fuels to other buyers – such as India or China – and could see energy suppliers go bankrupt, as is the case. is already produced in Britain under a similar price control system.

Responding to von der Leyen’s speech on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that if price caps were imposed, Moscow would stop supplying Europe with any form of energy, saying: “We will not supply gas, oil, coal, fuel oil – we will not supply anything.

“There would be only one thing left for us to do: as in the famous Russian fairy tale, we would condemn the wolf’s tail to be frozen”, threatened Putin.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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