New Normal: EU President Calls for ‘Mandatory’ Energy Rationing to ‘Flatten the Curve’ of Demand

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen gives a press conference on energy at EU headquarters in Brussels, on September 07, 2022. (Photo by Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP) (Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images)
KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has called for the implementation of “mandatory” energy rationing throughout the EU during peak hours in order to “flatten the curve” of demand amid the largely self-inflicted energy crisis befalling the bloc.

In a stunningly poor public relations move, EU President Ursula von der Leyen harkened back to the early days of the Chinese coronavirus crisis when citizens across the world were told to accept a brief period of lockdowns to “flatten the curve” of Covid infections, though this ultimately proved false, with two weeks quickly turning into over two years of restrictions for many across Europe and beyond.

During a speech on Wednesday proposing energy rationing measures to be put in place before the Winter months when demand peaks, the EU president said: “During peak demand, the expensive gas comes into the market. So what we have to do is flatten the curve to avoid the peak demands, we will propose a mandatory target for reducing electricity use at peak hours and we will work very closely with the member states to achieve this.”

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

The use of the same rhetoric from the early stages of the Wuhan virus outbreak is ominous given that there does not appear to be an end in sight for the energy crisis enrapturing the continent, meaning that energy rationing could become another “new normal” that citizens will be forced to accept.

Indeed, late last month, Ben van Beurden, the chief executive of multinational oil and gas giant Shell warned that Europe will face years of shortages, saying: “It may well be that we will have a number of winters where we have to somehow find solutions.”

Energy rationing proposals have already come out of several member states, including France, Italy, and Germany. President Emmanuel Macron, who has warned that France is facing the “end of abundance“, urged citizens this week to limit their energy usage in order to prevent future government imposed rationing, mirroring similar statements from outgoing Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

Matters are only likely to get worse for the EU, with Vladimir Putin shutting down the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, with Russian officials blaming Western sanctions levied against Moscow as an excuse for the shutdown. Even before the real crunch of the Winter months, protests across Germany have already sprung up against the government’s sanctions on Russia, including the decision by Chancellor Olaf Scholz to shut down the Nord Stream 2 pipeline earlier this year.

It is doubtful if such protests will move the government, however, with Foreign Affairs Minister Annalena Baerbock declaring last week that the coalition government will continue to support Ukraine’s war effort “no matter what [the] German voter thinks.”

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

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

Setting a price limit could backfire though, as Russia could chose to sell its fossil fuels to other buyers — such as India or China — and could see energy providers go bust, as has previously happened in Britain under a similar price control system.

Responding to the speech from von der Leyen on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that if price caps are imposed, Moscow would cease providing Europe with any form of energy, saying: “We will not supply gas, oil, coal, heating oil – we will not supply anything.”

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

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

.

Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.