Bulgaria facing EU sanctions over South Stream – Barroso

Outgoing European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said that the EC was planning to begin infringement proceedings against Bulgaria for breaching EU laws in its agreements on the Kremlin-backed South Stream gas pipeline, Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) reported on May 28.

At the informal European Council meeting late on May 27, Barroso told EU heads of government that the EC remains steadfast in its opinion that some of the intergovernmental agreements signed by member states with Russia to build South Stream were in contradiction with EU rules, BNR said.

The Commission was prepared to “take corresponding measures”, according to Barroso, who made the same point earlier on May 27 during a meeting with the Bulgarian Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski, the report said.

“I informed the prime minister of the EC’s intentions in this area. We must guarantee that the internal market rules are being observed, because we believe that in this case we are risking the energy security of Bulgaria and the energy security of Europe,” Barroso was quoted as saying.

After his meeting with Barroso, Oresharski said that Bulgaria would uphold EU law and was prepared to implement the EC’s recommendations.

However, on the same day that Oresharski was meeting Barroso, South Stream Bulgaria announced that it picked Russian company Stroytransgaz and a consortium of five Bulgarian firms to carry out construction of the Bulgarian section of the pipeline.

Stroytransgaz is believed to be controlled by Russian billionaire Gennady Timchenko, one of the businessmen targeted by US sanctions as a result of the Russian annexation of Crimea (and also, reportedly, a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin).

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(Photo: gazprom.ru)



The Sofia Globe staff

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