Amend your own laws, Russia tells EU in South Stream dispute

14 January 2014 17:12  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--The onus is on the EU to adapt its legislation to accommodate bilateral agreements Russia has signed for the planned South Stream gas pipeline, the Russian ambassador to the EU said on Tuesday.

Ambassador Vladimir Chizhov said that it is not up to Moscow to amend the agreements.

Chizhov was responding to the European Commission's complaints that accords on the South Stream pipeline agreed between Russia and EU member states Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary and Slovenia breach laws outlined in the EU's Third Energy Package.

EU candidate Serbia also has an accord in place on the pipeline, and has joined the six EU member states involved in authorising the Commission to represent them in talks with Russia on the matter.

"I have full respect for those six EU member states that have signed intergovernmental agreements with Russia, but they were aware of the possible complications,” said Chizhov, the head of the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the European Union.

“If they have really assigned negotiating powers to the European Commission, we will talk to the Commission, not about the agreements but on the possibility of adapting the Third Energy Package to those agreements," he added.

Gazprom, the Russian natural gas giant that is investing in the €16bn Russia-to-Europe pipeline, said that if the intergovernmental agreements were tested, international law would take precedence over EU law.

At issue is whether the pipeline could be rolled out across EU member states without the competition clearance of the Commission.

Another bone of contention is whether Gazprom can be allowed under European Commission competition rules to function both as the South Stream pipeline operator and hold a monopoly as its gas supplier.

The intended annual capacity of the South Stream pipeline, which would have its terminus in Austria, is 60bn cubic metres of gas.

By: Will Conroy
+44 20 8652 3214

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