Switzerland must align with EU energy plan, says minister

Swiss energy and environment minister Simonetta Sommaruga also stressed that Switzerland must boost renewable energy from domestic sources. © Keystone / Georgios Kefalas

Switzerland should align with a European Union plan for cutting energy consumption to cope with fallout from the war in Ukraine, says Swiss Energy Minister Simonetta Sommaruga.

This content was published on July 29, 2022 - 12:05

EU countries on Tuesday approved a plan to jointly reduce their gas consumption by 15% between August 2022 and March 2023. Although this decision does not directly commit non-EU Switzerland, all Swiss imports of natural gas pass through the EU.

"The European Commission has asked all member countries to make plans to reach the 15% target, and I am convinced that Switzerland must align itself with the European measures," Sommaruga said in an interviewExternal link with Swiss public television, RTS, on Thursday evening. She added that the government "is already preparing such a plan".

Sommaruga stressed that Switzerland is dependent on foreign countries, particularly its neighbours, for gas and oil imports. "At the moment, Switzerland exports electricity,” she told RTS. “But in winter we will have to import it. So we have to stay in close contact with the EU. That is the best thing we can do."

'No cherry-picking'

Meanwhile, German Economics Minister Robert Habeck this week confirmed to CH MediaExternal link that talks with Bern were ongoing on an agreement to ensure that gas continues to flow between Germany and Switzerland even if Russia has turned off the tap and there is a gas emergency in Europe. But he warned that Switzerland must come on board with the EU.

"Switzerland has decided not to adopt many rules concerning the internal market, and the EU is very clear about that: no cherry-picking," he told CH Media on the sidelines of an EU energy ministers’ meeting in Brussels.

"If we want to make progress, really create solidarity and cooperation in the energy sector, then Switzerland must be prepared to strive for a status like Norway, in other words be part of the internal market as a whole.”

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