Sunday

30th Apr 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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

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.

EU boasts unity on Brexit talks

EU leaders adopted the bloc's guidelines for the UK exit negotiations that will start in June, amid concerns that France could elect a president that would try to take it out of the EU.

Column / Brexit Briefing

May’s election juggernaut

The prime minister's Tories almost need not bother campaigning for the June election. There is no opposition worthy of the name.

News in Brief

  1. Vote of no confidence prepared against Spanish PM
  2. Syria to buy Russian anti-missile system
  3. Germany seeks partial burka ban
  4. Libya has no plan to stop migration flows
  5. EU has no evidence of NGO-smuggler collusion in Libya
  6. Poland gets 'final warning' on logging in ancient forest
  7. Commission gives Italy final warning on air pollution
  8. Romania and Slovenia taken to court over environment policies

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCharlotte Hornets' Nicolas Batum Tells Kids to "Eat Well, Drink Well, Move!"
  2. ECR GroupSyed Kamall: We Need a New, More Honest Relationship With Turkey
  3. Counter BalanceParliament Sends Strong Signal to the EIB: Time to Act on Climate Change
  4. ACCARisks and Opportunities of Blockchain and Shared Ledgers Technologies in Financial Services
  5. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  7. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  8. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  9. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  10. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  11. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  12. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process

Latest News

  1. EU boasts unity on Brexit talks
  2. May’s election juggernaut
  3. EPP scolds Orban over university and NGO laws
  4. Oxford-Studie besorgt über 'Schrott' News in Frankreich
  5. Alte Freundschaft zwischen Le Pen und Putin
  6. EP chief faces questions after homophobic 'summit'
  7. EU signals Northern Ireland could join if united with Ireland
  8. One year later: EU right to open internet still virtual