Sunday

22nd Jul 2018

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.

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.

... our join as a group

  • 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.

EU wants answers to de-dramatise Brexit talks

Further talks on the Irish border could continue next week as the EU is open to "any solution" that keeps the border invisible. EU negotiator Michel Barnier said key questions remain over the UK's white paper on a future partnership.

EU urges no-deal Brexit preparation

The EU Commission urged companies, citizens, and member states to prepare in case the UK next March crashes out of the EU without a deal - on the day the new UK Brexit minister arrived in Brussels.

News in Brief

  1. Libyan PM rejects EU migrant camps idea
  2. Italy's Salvini to sue critical anti-mafia writer
  3. EU countries send aircraft to Sweden to help with wildfires
  4. British ex-commissioner's jobs called into question
  5. May to tell EU to drop Irish border 'backstop' idea
  6. Trump threatens EU over Google fine
  7. Spain withdraws arrest warrant for Catalan separatists
  8. EU readies counter-measures on possible US car tariffs

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us