EC Threatens Punitive Measures against Bulgaria, Serbia over South Stream

Energy | September 17, 2014, Wednesday // 18:04|  views

Photo by EPA/BGNES

The European Commission has called on Bulgaria to suspend the construction of the South Stream gas pipeline, warning that it may take punitive measures against Sofia and Belgrade over the matter.

Marlene Holzner, Energy Spokesperson of the European Commission, commented on the matter at a press conference in response to a question regarding the plans of the Serbian authorities about the construction of the gas pipeline.

“Bulgaria is part of the EU so we started an infringement procedure over South Stream. We urged Sofia to respect all rules relating to public procurement. After that, we asked for a confirmation that the rules were being observed. In accordance with the ongoing procedure, we call on Bulgaria to stop construction works. The procedure continues,” she said, as cited by the BGNES news agency and the Macedonian Information Agency (MIA).

Holzner acknowledged that no procedure of this type existed for non-EU member states, adding that the matter could be put up for discussion by the Energy Community, which had “instruments of its own.”

“In view of the fact that Serbia is not an EU member state, the country is not obliged to follow the EU internal market rules. We cannot refer the question to the EU Court of Justice. The presence of a nonobservance of energy rules is to be decided at a later stage when the gas pipeline is operational,” the EC Spokesperson noted.

Brussels has reiterated Sofia should temporarily suspend all activities on South Stream until disagreement with Russia's energy giant Gazprom has been smoothed out. The EU Commission says the pipeline is incompatible with its Third Energy Package.

Despite a ban on activities former Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski ordered following an infringement procedure against Bulgaria, reports emerged that the previous cabinet had allowed construction to kick off.


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Tags: European Commission (EC), South Stream gas pipeline, Marlene Holzner, EU Energy Commissioner, EU law, infringement procedure


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