Wednesday

8th Feb 2023

Hungary moves ahead with South Stream pipeline

  • The EU opposes the South Stream pipeline (Photo: www.south-stream.info)

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban on Tuesday reiterated his support for the Russian-backed South Stream natural gas pipeline after parliament gave the green light to a law seen as paving the way for its construction.

The 2,500 km South Stream pipeline is to pump gas from Russia under the Black Sea to Bulgaria, Serbia, and Hungary and onto the rest of the EU while circumventing Ukraine altogether.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

But the EU opposes the pipeline plan due to competition and internal market rules given Russia’s Gazprom dominance in the sector. In December 2013, the European Commission told the Kremlin that the pipeline violates EU law.

"We support any gas pipeline which brings in energy sources," Orban said, reports AFP.

“If there is trouble in Ukraine, gas should still reach Hungary, and for that, we need another pipeline," he added.

The prime minister had made similar statements in early July when he said the pipeline was needed to help secure Hungary’s gas needs and supplies.

Hungarian lawmakers on Monday amended legislation to allow companies to build a pipeline without the license required to operate it.

This means gas firms only need to seek the approval to construct a pipeline from the Hungarian Energy Office, according to the Budapest Business Journal.

The head of the ruling Fidesz party’s parliamentary group tabled the bill, which was then voted through with 131 in favour and 35 against.

While the amendment does not explicitly cite South Stream, it reportedly allows companies to bypass the EU construction ban.

"The amendment was a trick to enable the start of construction of South Stream and sidestep EU regulation," an energy expert told AFP.

Hungary’s state-owned MVM Zrt is in a joint venture with OAO Gazprom (GAZP) to build and operate the pipeline.

The company, which does not have a license, is set to start construction within six months.

The European Commission, for its part, said it is in contact with the Hungarian authorities to ask for clarification.

“Such authorisations have to be based on objective and non-discriminatory criteria, which are published and made transparent. From the amendment, it is unclear, according to what criteria such authoritisations to build pipelines could be granted by the Hungarian National Regulatory Authority,” said a commission spokesperson on Tuesday.

Column

Why Europe's interminable compromises are a virtue

All member states complain about European compromises, each for their own reasons. Nevertheless, these decisions tend to be robust precisely because there is enough in them for everybody. And nobody wants to start negotiating all over again for another deal.

Opinion

Wales' message to Europe: 'We'll be back'

The scars of Brexit have left their mark in communities across Wales. The Menai mussel industry has experienced a sharp decline having once been a staple in fish counters and restaurants across Europe; its business model wrecked by post-Brexit rules.

Column

Why Europe's interminable compromises are a virtue

All member states complain about European compromises, each for their own reasons. Nevertheless, these decisions tend to be robust precisely because there is enough in them for everybody. And nobody wants to start negotiating all over again for another deal.

Latest News

  1. Polish MEP also went on freelance Azerbaijan trip
  2. Why Europe's interminable compromises are a virtue
  3. Wales' message to Europe: 'We'll be back'
  4. MEPs to vote on risky 'hydrogen for home heating' rule
  5. The man who won't stop filing info requests until every EU doc is public
  6. EU hands Libya coast guard boats ahead of migration summit
  7. Eleven suicides daily — Spain's not-so-silent pandemic
  8. The return of Lula means now is the time for EU-Mercosur deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWWEU Social Dialogue review – publication of the European Commission package and joint statement of ETUFs
  2. Oxfam InternationalPan Africa Program Progress Report 2022 - Post Covid and Beyond
  3. WWFWWF Living Planet Report
  4. EFBWWEFBWW Executive Committee report on major abuses, labour crime and subcontracting
  5. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  6. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us