Hungary votes against approval of EU gas savings regulation 

EU

Hungary was the only European Union member state to vote against the approval of a regulation to reduce gas consumption by 15% because it is "unfounded, impossible to enforce and disregards the interests of the Hungarian people", Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said in Brussels on Tuesday, according to state news wire MTI.

After a meeting of EU energy ministers, Szijjártó said there was "serious debate" over the regulation - proposed by the European Commission a week earlier - but a political consensus was reached on its approval in the end.

The regulation will be formally adopted through a written procedure.

"We alone signaled that we will vote no because the regulation completely ignores the interests of the Hungarian people," Szijjártó said.

He noted that the Treaties "clearly specify" that determining national energy mixes and ensuring secure energy supply are exclusively the competency of member states, adding that the legal grounds for the approved proposal are "doubtful at least".

He said the regulation paves the way for the start of voluntary reductions in gas consumption but allows a "Union alert" to be triggered by the council, on the initiative of the EC or five member states, making the 15% reduction mandatory.

The regulation fails to take into consideration the high share of gas in Hungary's energy mix and that households account for half of consumption, he said. It also "paints a negative picture" of the EU's competitiveness by prohibiting the use of gas in storage facilities, he added.

He noted that Hungary has enough gas in store at present to cover 28.5% of annual consumption, compared to a ratio of under 18% for the EU as a whole.

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