Thursday

22nd Oct 2020

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.

News in Brief

  1. Belarus opposition awarded 2020 Sakharov Prize
  2. Belgium's foreign minister in intensive care for Covid-19
  3. MEPs restrict CAP funding for bullfighting
  4. Coronavirus: Liège is 'the Lombardy of the second wave'
  5. UK to keep out EU nationals with criminal past
  6. Report: EU to restrict travel from Canada, Tunisia, Georgia
  7. Pope Francis supports same-sex civil unions
  8. EU Commission to increase use of open-source software

Opinion

All eyes on EU court for decision on religious slaughter

The European Court of Justice is currently facing a major question: can religious freedom coexist with animal welfare? The decision of whether religious slaughter can continue is expected in a matter of weeks.

Investigation

EU money used by neo-Nazi to promote Holocaust denial

A prominent Holocaust-denier has made the cover of an EU-funded newsletter, which was published by an avowed German neo-Nazi with a lengthy criminal record. The lack of clear labelling of the MEP behind it violates European Parliament rules.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersUN Secretary General to meet with Nordic Council on COVID-19
  3. UNESDAWell-designed Deposit Return Schemes can help reach Single-Use Plastics Directive targets
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  6. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity

Latest News

  1. Nato and EU silent on Turkey, despite Armenia's appeal
  2. EU tells UK to decide on Brexit as deal 'within reach'
  3. EU farming deal attacked by Green groups
  4. France vows tough retaliation for teacher's murder
  5. All eyes on EU court for decision on religious slaughter
  6. 'Big majority' of citizens want EU funds linked to rule of law
  7. EU declares war on Malta and Cyprus passport sales
  8. EU Commission's Libya stance undercut by internal report

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us