BRATISLAVA – European Commission Vice-President for Energy Union Maros Sefcovic from Slovakia said the European Union plans to discuss with member states the controversial issues concerning the planned South Stream gas pipeline.
“If you come to such a project like South Stream, I understand that for some member states it’s very sensitive issue, but I think they also respect the fact that in such a huge infrastructural project at first we to respect the European legislation,” Sefcovic told a press conference, responding to a question from New Europe on November 13 at the Tatra Summit investment conference in the Slovak capital.
The EU Commission has been pressuring member states to stop the building of South Stream although many countries support it. “If we’re going to build such a huge infrastructure project in Europe it must respect the Third Energy Package, it must respect the same rules that all energy giants have respected so far, I mean unbundling of infrastructure and corporations and it must actually bring to Europe something positive, something new – it means diversified source of energy. This is the angle from which the European Commission is looking at this issue and this is how we will talk to the member states,” the Vice President said.
He reminded that the discussion started with his predecessor, Commission Vice President Günther Oettinger. Sefcovic said he plans to continue this communication with the energy ministers from these particular countries all within the margin of the next Energy Council in early December. “We’re making this point very, very clear to the Russian side. As they would also understand if such a project would be planned on Russian territory the expectations would be we would have to respect the Russian laws. Expect nothing less in Europe. I want our laws to be respected and I believe that in this particular case in the end we will find the solution which I say could be based only on the respect of European legislation,” Sefcovic said.
Asked by New Europe if Italy still supports South Stream, former Italian prime minister Enrico Letta told a press conference on November 12 at the same venue, “Of course, we still support it”.
Letta elaborated further, telling New Europe on the sidelines that for Italy there are a range of possible investments and oil and gas pipelines. “For us, it’s good South Stream; it’s good TAP [Trans Adriatic Pipeline]. I don’t see limits. What’s important is to diversify and avoid being linked to just one producer,” he said.
Meanwhile, former Hungarian prime minister Gordon Bajnai echoed Letta’s comments, telling New Europe in Bratislava that South Stream is an alternative route but not an alternative source.
The real solution for independence would be also to having alternative sources especially after the recent crisis, he said. “I have been a supporter of South Stream as a part solution but never a full solution,” Bajnai said.
“In a normal situation where there is a calculable, positive cooperation with Russia, it’s good to have two routes – one route which is independent from Ukraine because we had problems with that in the past. But in this tense situation South Stream is not a solution to the fundamental problem which is the source,” Bajnai said.
Previously on Energy Insider: