Wednesday

30th Nov 2022

EU says No to Russian pipeline, as Ukraine talks resume

  • South Stream is to pump Russian gas under the Black Sea, bypassing Ukraine (Photo: eastpole)

The EU has given Ukraine a gift on Russian gas, amid fresh talks on an EU-Ukraine treaty.

The European Commission told the Kremlin in a letter on Wednesday (4 December) that its "South Stream" pipeline - designed to bypass Ukraine, costing it billions in lost transit fees - violates EU law.

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

Klaus-Dieter Borchardt, a senior EU official, made the decision public the same day.

Referring to Russia's deals with Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Serbia and Slovenia, he told the European Parliament that "the commission has looked into these intergovernmental agreements [IGAs] and came to the conclusion that none of them is in compliance with EU law."

An EU spokeswoman added that if they go ahead, Brussels will trigger "infringement proceedings."

EU "unbundling" and "third-party access" laws say energy firms must separate production and distribution and must let competitors use each other's pipes. But the IGAs give Russia exclusive control of South Stream from Siberian gas fields to EU consumers.

EU officials say the decision has nothing to do with new talks on an EU-Ukraine free trade treaty.

They also say they will not make "cheap deals" with Ukraine to salvage the trade pact.

But the South Stream decision squares with Ukraine's threat to leave the European Energy Community, a club of south-east European states, due to lack of EU "solidarity."

EU countries have also dropped demands for Ukraine to free its former PM, Yulia Tymoshenko.

The gas news came one day before Ukrainian envoys came to the EU capital for talks on reviving the trade pact.

The Ukrainian delegation was led by deputy central bank chief Mykola Udovychenko and deputy foreign minister Andrii Olefirov, who met with mid-level diplomats in the EU foreign service.

One contact told EUobserver the talks were "not bad," despite a rift in EU-Ukraine relations after Ukraine said No to the trade treaty on 21 November.

Another contact said Ukrainian deputy PM Serhiy Arbuzov is to come to Brussels next week.

The EU has refused to reopen negotiations on the trade pact: five and a half kilos' worth of documents, which took six years to put together.

Instead, Arbuzov is drafting new terms on "implementation" of the treaty.

He is calling it, informally, an EU "Marshall Plan," referring to US funding to rebuild Europe after World War II.

It will detail how much extra money Ukraine wants in order to put into life individual EU directives or industrial standards.

It will also contain safeguards to ensure the money - as much €10 billion - is not stolen or misused.

The fresh talks come amid ongoing pro-EU protests in Ukraine.

Swedish and Polish foreign ministers at a meeting with the Ukrainian PM, Mykola Azarov, in Kiev on Thursday urged him to stop police violence.

Meanwhile, Russia and the US spoke of "hysteria" and "chaos."

"This situation is connected to some Europeans' hysteria, which was caused by the fact that Ukraine exercised its sovereign right in deciding not to sign [the] agreement," Russian FM Sergei Lavrov told press at a meeting of the OSCE, a Vienna-based pro-democracy club, also in Kiev on Thursday.

The US state department's Victoria Nuland said: "This is Ukraine’s moment to meet the aspirations of its people or to disappoint them, and risk descending into chaos."

Ashton in two-day visit to Ukraine

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will travel to Kiev Tuesday to bring "clear EU messages" amid fears there will be more violence against protesters.

News in Brief

  1. 'Pro-Kremlin group' in EU Parliament cyberattack
  2. Ukraine will decide on any peace talks, Borrell says
  3. Germany blocks sale of chip factory to Chinese subsidiary
  4. Strikes and protests over cost-of-living grip Greece, Belgium
  5. Liberal MEPs want Musk quizzed in parliament
  6. Bulgarian policeman shot dead at Turkish border
  7. 89 people allowed to disembark in Italy, aid group says
  8. UN chief tells world: Cooperate on climate or perish

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. EU Commission proposes suspending billions to Hungary
  2. EU: Russian assets to be returned in case of peace treaty
  3. Frontex leadership candidates grilled by MEPs
  4. Portugal was poised to scrap 'Golden Visas' - why didn't it?
  5. Why the EU asbestos directive revision ... needs revising
  6. Nato renews membership vow to Ukraine
  7. Catalan spyware victims demand justice
  8. Is the overwhelming critique of Qatar hypocritical?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  2. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  4. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  6. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us