Friday

18th Oct 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.

EU envoy sheds light on weird US diplomacy

Remarks to Congress by the US ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, have shed light on the unusual nature of American diplomacy under president Donald Trump.

News in Brief

  1. Almost 7,500 people forcibly returned to Libya in 2019
  2. Puigdemont released after responding to arrest warrant
  3. Commission: Facebook's Libra needs international approach
  4. Italian PM: denial of accession talks a 'historic mistake'
  5. Catalan president blames clashes on 'infiltrators'
  6. US imposes €6.7bn new tariffs on European products
  7. G7: Libra should not operate until all risks addressed
  8. Kurds agree with US-Turkey ceasefire but not safe-zone

Crucial summit: last EU-28 format?

The EU summit will be crucial for the future of the EU, but especially for the UK. The next EU summit will not be the same since the UK's withdrawal will have consequences for the power relations within the council.

EU parliament quietly hoards visitors' wi-fi data

The European Parliament is retaining the data of everyone who uses their wi-fi network, including journalists and visitors, and providing access to national authorities in case of investigations.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  2. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  3. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  4. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  6. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  10. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  12. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us