European Commission welcomes Bulgaria’s suspension of work on South Stream

The European Commission (EC) has welcomed the announcement on June 8 that Bulgaria’s prime minister has ordered a halt to work on the South Stream gas pipeline project.

The welcome was expressed by EC spokesperson Sabine Berger, public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television said on June 9, adding that it was “possible” that the question of the project would be discussed at a tripartite meeting scheduled for the evening in Brussels between representatives of Russia, Ukraine and the European Union.

The suspension of work on South Stream – ordered after the EC gave written notice on June 2 that it was initiating an infringement procedure against Bulgaria in connection with the award of the contract to build the land section of South Stream to Stroytransgaz – was an important step to addressing the concerns of the EC whether the project complied with European legislation, the report said.

The case already has been referred to by EC President Jose Barroso as an example of Brussels being uncompromising.

Speaking on June 4, Barroso said, “the Commission will also ensure that all energy infrastructure and projects in the European Union such as South Stream comply 100 per cent with European rules on energy competition public procurements and so on.

“We have just launched an infringement procedure against Bulgaria which shows that we mean business. Other infringements procedures related to other countries will follow if some of the obstacles to the respect of our internal market are not removed meanwhile. The European Union needs to speak and act as one in context with its suppliers letting ourselves divided is against the self interest of our countries and is also detrimental for the European internal market,” Barroso said.

Berger told BNT that the EC was ready to consult with representatives of Bulgaria or any other country of the European Union, to ensure that they comply with European legislation.

In the recently adopted European energy security strategy, the European Commission called for South Stream to be discussed by EU leaders at the European Council at the end of June. The goal is the adoption of a common European approach to the issue.

(Photo: Sébastien Bertrand)



The Sofia Globe staff

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