Europe Agrees to Cut Natural-Gas Consumption as Russia Crimps Supplies

European countries agreed to sweeping cuts to natural-gas consumption, prompted by the threat of a Russian supply cutoff, opting for a controlled dose of economic pain now in the hope of avoiding a much deeper contraction later.

The deal calls for countries to voluntarily reduce their gas use by 15% from August, and marks a major intervention in European Union gas markets. The target, proposed by the EU’s executive arm last week, could become mandatory in an emergency.

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