Thursday

17th Aug 2017

Russia to file WTO lawsuit against EU energy laws

  • It is the second time this year that Moscow has protested to the Geneva-based trade body against the EU (Photo: qwertyuiop)

Russia is to file its second formal complaint against the EU with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) over the EU's so-called 'Third Energy Package,' according to reports on Wednesday (30 April).

At the heart of the Russian complaint are expected to be EU provisions which prevent a single company from both owning and operating a gas pipeline. EU lawmakers agreed the rules, known as 'ownership unbundling', as part of its Energy Package on rules governing the bloc's gas and electricity market. The new framework, which was agreed in 2009, is aimed at stimulating competition in the EU's gas market and lower prices.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Russia has filed a WTO complaint against the EU's energy laws (Photo: Joffley)

For its part, Russia claims that its state-owned energy giant Gazprom is the only company with the right to export gas and that the EU rules should not be backdated to cover contracts signed before 2009.

"These and other elements of the Third Energy Package, in the opinion of Russia, contradict the obligations of the EU in WTO on basic principles of non-discrimination and market access," Maksim Medvedkov, a trade spokesman in Russia's Economic development ministry, told local news agencies.

Under WTO procedures, EU and Russian trade officials will have 60 days to try and settle their differences before further legal action is taken.

The next step would be for the WTO to set up an arbitration panel to review the case.

Ultimately, the WTO has the power to impose either a change of policy or economic sanctions.

It is the second time this year that Moscow has protested to the Geneva-based trade body against the EU, in what has become a running tit-for-tat trade battle. In January, Russia filed its first complaint as a WTO member against EU levies on steel products and ammonium nitrate, which is mainly used in fertilisers.

Russia joined the WTO in August 2012 but has itself already been subjected to two ongoing investigations relating to a car recycling tax on foreign cars, and a host of other complaints from the EU, Japan and the United States. It is seen by the trade body as one of the main culprits in imposing trade restrictions on other countries.

Gazprom has been under EU investigation since September 2012 over suspected anti-competitive tactics, which include overcharging eastern European countries for their gas and blocking rival suppliers.

However, the EU's competition commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, has indicated that his department's Gazprom probe will remain on hold until the crisis in the Ukraine, prompted by Moscow's annexation of the Crimea, has been at least partially resolved.

Gazprom currently accounts for over 30 percent of the EU's gas needs, more than half of which is piped through Ukraine.

EU demands WTO ruling on Russian trade tariffs

The European Commission accused Russia of breaking its trade commitments on Thursday, urging the World Trade Organisation to arbitrate on illegal import duties on a range of products.

News in Brief

  1. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  2. European Union returns to 2 percent growth
  3. Russian power most feared in Europe
  4. Ireland continues to refuse €13 billion in back taxes from Apple
  5. UK unemployment lowest since 1975
  6. Europe facing 'explosive cocktail' in its backyard, report warns
  7. Danish police to investigate misuse of EU fishing rules
  8. German constitutional court questions ECB's €2tn spending

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  2. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  3. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  5. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  7. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  8. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  10. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  11. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  12. ECPAFood Waste in the Field Can Double Without Crop Protection. #WithOrWithout #Pesticides