BRUSSELS - The European Union reached an agreement on Tuesday on how to cut member states' consumption of gas by 15 percent and reduce their dependence on Russian supplies.
Russian state-run giant Gazprom will slash supplies to Europe from Wednesday, threatening economies like Germany's that rely on Moscow's gas for energy and chemical production.
But the 27 EU members, which have imposed economic sanctions on Russia to punish it for its invasion of Ukraine, met to agree a way cut gas use and share the burden of shortages.
"In an effort to increase EU security of energy supply, member states today reached a political agreement on a voluntary reduction of natural gas demand by 15 percent this winter," the council of ministers said.
"The Council regulation also foresees the possibility to trigger a 'Union alert' on security of supply, in which case the gas demand reduction would become mandatory," the statement continued.
"The purpose of the gas demand reduction is to make savings ahead of winter in order to prepare for possible disruptions of gas supplies from Russia that is continuously using energy supplies as a weapon."
Luxembourg's energy minister, Claude Turmes, tweeted that Hungary was the only member state to vote against the plan, which he dubbed the "best move to react to Putin's gas blackmail".