Thursday

27th Jun 2019

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

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

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.

Exclusive

EU moves to end car-testing 'confidentiality clause'

The EU Commission will now spend €3.4m next year to rent cars for emissions testing - after EUobserver revealed that models loaned by the manufacturer were then subject to commercial confidentiality clauses.

EU parliament gives extra time for leaders on top jobs

The EU parliament might allow an extra 24 hours for EU heads of government to first come up with the new EU leadership names. Meanwhile, EPP lead candidate Manfred Weber is meeting Angela Merkel and AKK in Berlin for backing.

News in Brief

  1. EU warns Turkey as 'Gezi Park' trials begin
  2. EU universities to share students, curricula
  3. Migrant rescue ship loses Human Rights Court appeal
  4. Denmark completes social democrat sweep of Nordics
  5. Johnson offers 'do or die' pledge on Brexit
  6. Weber indirectly attacks Macron in newspaper op-ed
  7. EU to sign free trade deal with Vietnam
  8. EU funding of air traffic control 'largely unnecessary'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  4. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  6. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  7. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  8. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  9. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate

Latest News

  1. EU moves to end car-testing 'confidentiality clause'
  2. EU parliament gives extra time for leaders on top jobs
  3. Europe's rights watchdog lifts Russia sanctions
  4. EU-Vietnam trade deal a bad day for workers' rights
  5. EU 'special envoy' going to US plan for Palestine
  6. Polish judicial reforms broke EU law, court says
  7. EU study: no evidence of 'East vs West' food discrimination
  8. Russia tried to stir up Irish troubles, US think tank says

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us