Bulgaria Assures EC South Stream Is Compatible with EU Law

Bulgaria in EU | June 26, 2014, Thursday // 10:01|  views

Photo by EPA/BGNES

Bulgaria argues in a letter to the European Commission that the structuring of the South Stream gas pipeline project envisages no breaches of EU law.

Bulgaria's stance was approved on June 23 and it is to be presented at the EU summit in Brussels on June 26-27.

The reply to the EC comes in response to the launch of an infringement procedure over the South Stream gas pipeline project.

Bulgaria claims that the 2008 intergovernmental agreement on the project does not grant exclusive rights, a concession, or a public procurement deal to South Stream Bulgaria AD to design, finance, build and exploit the gas pipeline which will be owned by the company.

The establishment of the company through a decision of the government in 2010 agrees with domestic legislation and does not violate provisions of Community law, according to the government's stance, as cited by dnevnik.bg.

As regards the contracts awarded by the company, they do not infringe the principles of non-discrimination, equal treatment and transparency and the rules applied by the company correspond to these principles.

In a letter of formal notice from June 3, 2014, which starts an infringement procedure, the EC brings up three questions related to potential breaches of EU law.

The issues concern the role of South Stream Bulgaria AD as designer, operator and owner of the pipeline, the legal capacity of Bulgaria for signing the intergovernmental agreement with Russia, and a number of public procurement deals awarded by South Stream Bulgaria AD.

The letter of formal notice is the first pre-court stage of the the first stage in the pre-litigation procedure and Bulgaria is to present its stance within a month.

The implementation of the South Stream gas pipeline project triggered a set of controversial Energy Act amendments which passed first reading in Parliament.

The legal changes provide a definition of "marine pipeline" which technically exempts the conduit from the scope of EU's Third Energy Package.

Another reason behind the EC infringement procedure was the opaque selection of a contractor for the Bulgarian section of the conduit, the Stroytransgaz consortium.

After the launch of the infringement procedure, Bulgarian Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski announced that the country was suspending work on the project until the dispute with the EC was settled.

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Tags: South Stream gas pipeline project, south stream bulgaria, EU law, Third Energy Package, Bulgarian Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski, infringement procedure, public procurement, European Commission


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