Belgium has joined the group of European states opposed to the gas-saving plan presented by the European Commission.
Last week, the European Commission proposed that EU Member States reduce gas consumption by 15% this winter, which several EU countries pushed back against, demanding that individual nations have the option to increase their gas usage rather than be bound to mandatory measures.
Belgium is a major exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) thanks to the Zeebrugge terminal. But the current gas crisis has pushed its export volumes to the limits of its capacity.
"Belgium has asked to be exempted from the mandatory nature of the measure," said one diplomatic source. "If Belgium were forced to reduce its consumption by 15%, the country has reached the limit of its export capacities."
Countries such as Spain and Portugal have rejected mandatory cuts, stressing that their use of Russian energy is far below Member States such as Germany.
"Other European countries, such as Spain, Portugal, France and Italy would have the same problem as Belgium and are calling for an exemption," added the diplomatic source.
- EU Council calls for 'unity' as Russia cuts Nord Stream gas supply to 20%
- Nord Stream 1 pipeline resumes operation
EU leaders will gather on Tuesday for an emergency meeting after Russian energy giant Gazprom announced on Monday that it will reduce gas supplies to the EU to 20%.