Wednesday

26th Sep 2018

Legal tweak could extend EU control on Russia pipeline

  • Pipeline to be operational by 2019 (Photo: Nord Stream)

The European Commission is preparing to amend EU energy law in order to rein in Russian plans for a new gas pipeline.

An EU source said the Commission could propose the amendment to its 2009 law on gas markets in early November.

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

The change would redefine "interconnector" pipelines so that EU anti-monopoly laws, the so-called third energy package, applied in full to Nord Stream 2, Russia's new gas conduit to Germany.

The initiative comes amid mounting concern in Brussels and other EU capitals that the project would harm EU energy security by concentrating Russian supplies in one route.

Polish prime minister Beata Szydlo urged the Commission to take action at the summit in Brussels on Thursday.

The leaders of Austria, Denmark, Latvia, and Lithuania, as well as European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council chief Donald Tusk also spoke out in favour of strong EU regulation of Nord Stream 2, the EU source said.

The intervention by the Austrian chancellor, Christian Kern, who said the EU should diversify energy sources for the sake of lower prices, came as a surprise because Austrian energy firm OMV is planning to invest €950 million in Nord Stream 2.

Thursday's debate came in the context of two opposing legal opinions on Nord Stream 2 - from the Commission's lawyers and from the Council services.

The Commission lawyers said the third energy package should apply to the offshore section of Nord Stream 2 and that Commission officials should negotiate the legal model for the pipeline with Russia on behalf of the EU.

The Council said the EU had no jurisdiction and the Commission had no mandate for negotiations.

The EU source said German chancellor Angela Merkel also spoke out on Thursday.

She reportedly acknowledged Szydlo's point that Nord Stream 2 had a "political dimension", but she said she was against a Commission mandate for Russia talks.

Speaking to press after the Council debate, Juncker said "quite a number" of member states wanted EU-level intervention on the pipeline.

But he said "I don't feel we'll have unanimity" on giving the Commission a mandate to negotiate with Russia on behalf of the EU.

Szydlo told press: "I am pleased to say that my voice in the discussion was supported by other heads of governments, and the importance of this topic was supported by chairman Donald Tusk".

Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite told media on Friday morning there was a legal "battle" between EU Council and Commission lawyers on which rules applied to Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which she described as a "geopolitical" issue.

"That's why it's very much important to adapt the third energy package … and have clarity in future how to deal with third countries," she said.

The third energy package would force Russian firm Gazprom to run its pipeline via an independent operator and to let competing energy firms use the infrastructure.

Similar EU provisions led Russia to abandon a gas pipeline to Bulgaria under the Black Sea three years ago.

If Nord Stream 2 is built, 70 percent of all Russian gas imports to Europe would go via Germany, enabling Russia to cut off Baltic states or Poland for political reasons.

If it is built, it would also make Ukraine's gas transit network obsolete in a hammer blow to its economy at a time when it is trying to align with the West.

Feature

Missing signature gaffe for Azerbaijan gas pipeline

A joint declaration on the Southern Gas Corridor project, which should deliver Azerbaijani gas to Europe by 2020, will remain secret - because the Turkish energy minister left before signing.

News in Brief

  1. UN chief: World suffering from 'trust deficit disorder'
  2. Stalemate in Sweden as parliament ousts prime minister
  3. Migrant rescue ship heading to French port
  4. EU angry at British tabloids on Brexit
  5. UK to allow EU flights in no-deal Brexit
  6. Greek reporters arrested after story on 'mishandled' EU funds
  7. Austrian minister urges police to out foreign sex offenders
  8. ECB's Draghi set to clarify role in secretive G30 group

Stakeholder

Nordic electricity market presented to global energy ministers

Energy ministers from the world's biggest economies, including the G20, were shown how co-operation works in the Nordic electricity market. This co-operation is unique by international standards and is held up as a model globally.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. EU court delivers transparency blow on MEP expenses
  2. Russian with Malta passport in money-laundering probe
  3. Cyprus: Russia's EU weak link?
  4. Missing signature gaffe for Azerbaijan gas pipeline
  5. Every major city in Europe is getting warmer
  6. No chance of meeting EU renewable goals if infrastructure neglected
  7. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK
  8. Wake-up call on European Day Against Islamophobia

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us