An embargo on Russian natural gas would seriously affect the German economy, as well as society, Labor Minister Hubertus Heil said in an interview with news outlet Funke, published on Saturday.
“We should gradually become independent from gas imports, but the immediate imposition of an embargo would both complicate the situation with rising prices even more and lead to job losses. So we must avoid this,” he warned.
Heil noted that the labor market in Germany, despite suffering from the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, is currently stable, but drastic measures such as cutting off Russian gas would change the situation for the worse.
“In the event of an immediate gas embargo, however, we would be in a completely different situation economically and socially,” he stated, adding that an embargo would be “poison for [German] society.”
Along with other EU states, Berlin has been working towards phasing out energy from Russia, but the government has repeatedly stated that the country cannot afford to do so immediately, as it would lead to an economic and industrial crisis.
Germany is highly dependent on Russian energy carriers, buying around 25% of its oil and 40% of its gas from Russia. According to the current strategy, however, Berlin plans to completely replace Russian coal and oil by the end of the year, and switch from Russian gas to alternate suppliers in 2024.