Bulgaria Faces 'Pilot' Procedures from EC over South Stream, EDCs

Energy | May 20, 2014, Tuesday // 10:24|  views

The EU Commission's reaction follows multiple warnings against possible law changes that could exemp the South Stream gas pipeline's offshore section from complying with European legislation. Photo by Gazprom.ru

The EU Commission has launched "pilot' procedures against Bulgaria over Sofia's legal amendments regarding the South Stream pipeline and plans to suspend the EDC's licenses.

Despite not being of "penal" essence, the procedures could prompt further measures by the Commission following their results, according to the Bulgarian National Radio.

EC's latest move, known as the EU Pilot, is aimed at solving the problems related to appliance of European legislation and improving communication between the EU and the member state that is subjected to it.

According to the EU Commission's website, is actually a step aimed at ensuring the conformity of a national law correct application of EU law. It is also described as "a first step to try to clarify or resolve problems, so that, if possible, formal infringement proceedings can be avoided."

Officials from the Commission sent a letter to the Bulgarian government back on April 10, but it was only on Monday that the news was spread.

Bulgaria has until mid-June, or ten weeks on from the beginning of EU Pilot, to give and official response.

Following its answer, another ten weeks will be necessary for the EU Commission to decide on its further actions.

EU Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger's spokeswoman, Sabine Berger, has refused to comment on the procedure as it is currently "under way".

The Bulgarian Ministry of Economy has denied any "procedure" is being carried out regarding Bulgarian legislative moves and says that the EU Pilot is a "standard inquiry" related to compliance of certain national acts with EU law. Minister Dragomir Stoynev was quoted by Darik Radio as calling it "an exchange of information".

Steps taken against Bulgaria by the EC are a response to the Parliament's approval of amendments to energy legislation allowing for the South Stream gas pipeline's offshore section to go around EU law and the Third Energy Package's prescriptions, barring access to it from third countries and thus favouring Russia's energy giant Gazprom.

A financial dispute between the energy grid operators CEZ, EVN and Energo-Pro and Bulgaria's national regulator DKEVR is also ongoing, as the latter claims the EDCs owe hundreds of millions of BGN to the National Electricity Company and earlier threatened to suspend their permits to operate in Bulgaria if the sums are not paid.

Power distributors are presently facing severe fines over a total of 2690 violations which DKEVR reported it an audit it presented last week.

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Tags: Gunther Oettinger, Sabine Berger, Gazprom, DKEVR, Russia, power distributors, South stream, EU Commission, EC, EDCs, EU Pilot


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