European measures in the event of a Russian gas supply shutdown

The European Union has adopted rules for preventing and responding to gas supply disruptions, which identify three levels of crisis: early warning, an alert and an emergency situation.

Several European countries are rolling out plans to manage gas supplies and even ration electricity in case Russian gas flows stop amid a stalemate over a demand for payment in roubles. Russia has said it will stop supplying gas if ruble payments are not made, but most European countries have refused.

The European Union has rules for preventing and responding to gas supply disruptions, which identify three levels of crisis: early warning, alert and emergency. Member states are required to put plans in place on how they would manage the impact of a supply disruption at all three crisis levels.

In an emergency, governments can only intervene if market-based measures are insufficient to ensure supply to households and customers providing essential services.

Here is a summary of the actions taken by the different European governments (in alphabetical order):


Austria, which gets around 80% of its gas from Russia, said it had activated the first stage of a three-stage contingency plan, stepping up its monitoring of the gas market but taking no further action so far. to secure its supply. Measures such as gas rationing would only come into play if the third phase of the emergency plan was activated, which required an “immediate crisis”.


A National Grid spokesman said: ‘Supply continues to be available from a diverse number of sources. The gas supply margin should be sufficient in all our supply and demand scenarios. National Grid has a range of tools available to manage all operational requirements, the spokesperson added.

Britain receives around 3% of Russia’s gas.


The country, which meets more than 90% of its gas needs from Russia, is in talks with Azerbaijan to increase gas imports and is exploring ways to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) through terminals in Greece. and in Turkey. Its gas network operator has also issued a tender for underground drilling as part of plans to nearly double storage capacity and prepare for possible supply disruptions.


The Energy Ministry said Denmark had the same contingency plan in place as Germany because it is an EU system, but each country makes an individual assessment. Denmark has not activated the “early warning” phase of the plan.


The French gas transmission network operator GRTgaz has put in place measures that can be invoked to limit gas supplies to customers in the event of a shortage and called on shippers to fill underground storage before next winter.

The measures allow the company to issue injunctions to reduce or interrupt gas consumption within two hours to large consumers connected to its network, and to ask distribution network operators to do the same in the event of shortage.

France receives about 20% of its gas from Russia.


Germany last week activated the first “early warning” stage of an emergency plan. A second stage would be where a disruption in supply or high demand upsets the usual balance but can still be corrected without intervention.

The third level is that of urgency, when market-based measures have failed to address shortages and when the German grid regulator must decide how to distribute any remaining gas supplies.

Russia accounted for 55% of Germany’s gas imports in 2021 and 40% in the first quarter of 2022.


Under a contingency plan, Greece, which uses gas mainly for power generation, would get additional quantities of LNG and switch four gas-fired power stations to diesel. It could also increase purchases of Azeri gas. Coal reserve capacity can also be activated. Russian gas covers about 40% of the country’s annual needs.


Ecological Transition Minister Roberto Cingolani told Radio24 this week that Italy could count on sufficient reserves to avoid a critical situation in the coming months, even if it were to suspend gas imports from Russia soon. . He later added that Italy is expected to reach its first deals to secure more gas to replace flows from Russia over the next week, including pipeline from Algeria, Libya and Azerbaijan this year. , and LNG imports from markets like Qatar, the United States. , and Mozambique.

Italy gets about 40% of its gas supply from Russia.


The Netherlands gets about 15-20% of its gas from Russia. The government has said it will ask citizens and businesses to use less gas, but is not yet activating its gas crisis plan.


Under a reserve requirement law, in the event of a risk to security of supply, the Polish climate ministry submits a formal motion to the government to introduce limitations on the use of gas for consumers. These would first affect industry and protect households. “There is no need or reason to initiate this procedure at this stage,” ministry spokesman Aleksander Brzoska said.

Poland receives around 50% of its annual gas demand from Russia.

Spain and Portugal

Neither of the two countries on the Iberian Peninsula counts Russia among its main suppliers.