Monday

19th Aug 2019

Polish firm sues EU Commission over Gazprom privileges

  • A Nord Stream worker. (Photo: Nord Stream AG)

Poland's state-owned gas consortium PGNiG filed a complaint to the European Court of Justice on Sunday (4 December), asking it to cancel a European Commission decision that would give Russian gas supplier Gazprom unique rights to the so-called Opal pipeline in Germany.

The Polish firm said the decision, which was taken on 28 October, went against EU antitrust rules on sharing of infrastructure. The extra Opal capacity will help Russia to expand the Nord Stream pipeline to Germany and strengthen relations between the two countries, which Warsaw considers a strategic threat.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"This is the first of a range of legal measures PGNiG intends to take in this matter against the European Commission and the Bundesnetzagentur, the German energy market regulator," the gas company said in a statement.

EU rules say that gas-trading companies cannot have exclusive use of the pipeline. However, in 2009, the commission agreed that Gazprom would have half of the capacity of the Opal pipeline reserved for its exclusive use.

In October the commission lifted the 50 percent cap, allowing Gazprom to expand Nord Stream's capacity and bypass both Ukraine and Poland as a gas transit route.

The EU executive hasn't yet published its decision, and PGNiG said the German regulator also had not responded to requests to hand over the decision.

Nonetheless, the German regulator has already started to implement the decree. On 28 November, it signed a contract with Gazprom and Opal owners exempting them from the obligation to apply EU regulations on third-party access to the pipeline.

PGNiG managing director Piotr Wozniak said the commission and the German regulator were acting in a way that threatened the security of gas deliveries to Poland and its neighbours.

"They are destroying the development of the competitive gas market and expanding the privileges enjoyed by Gazprom, which can in turn lead to the Russian company acquiring a monopoly in the supply of gas to Central and Eastern Europe," he said.

If the court decides not to annul the commission's decision, PGNiG would appeal, Wozniak said, which could result in a lengthy court battle.

EU energy policy explicitly aims to diminish dependency on Russia, but Gazprom said earlier this year that its exports to the EU had reached a record high.

Poland also wants the commission to stop Gazprom's plan from building a second gas pipeline, Nord Stream 2, which would ship huge volumes of gas to Germany while bypassing Poland and Ukraine.

Polish authorities say the pipeline breaks EU law and undermines the bloc's policy on Ukraine.

The EU executive, however, has said it's too difficult to pin down the project in legal terms, because its plans kept changing.

Analysis

Good day for Russia in Europe

Russian firm Gazprom is a reformed character, the EU commission has said, improving the climate for new pipelines to Europe.

Column / Crude World

Nord Stream 2: The elephant in the room

The European Commission should provide a thorough impact assessment of Nord Stream 2, a project that appears to go against all of its Energy Union objectives.

Planned German coal exit boosts case for Nord Stream 2

German commission recommends phasing out coal power over the next 19 years - which will provide additional arguments to build the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia, which both the European Commission and the US have reservations about.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. EU ends silence on Hong Kong protests
  2. Is Salvini closing just harbours or also the rule of law?
  3. No-deal Brexit would seriously harm UK, leaked paper says
  4. Selmayr did not keep formal records of lobby meetings
  5. EU asked to solve migrant rescue deadlock
  6. Internal EU paper: Second Brexit vote was no longer 'distant dream'
  7. EU has 'zero incentive' to break open 'trilogue' deals
  8. Denmark plans import ban on EU-approved pesticide

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us