Polish Briefing 19 December, 2018 9:00 am   
Editorial staff

Polish Briefing: The revision of the gas directive against Nord Stream 2 remains deadlocked

What goes on in Poland on the 19th of December.

The gas directive is stuck

Austria reports on fundamental differences of opinion between the European Union countries on the revision of the gas directive, which may protect them from the negative impact of Nord Stream 2 on the market. The project is waiting for further analysis.

The Austrian Presidency informed that the revision of the gas directive proposed by the European Commission “requires further analysis”. The new regulation could subordinate the Nord Stream 2 project to European law, thus reducing its harmfulness and delaying implementation.

The Austrians report that after presenting a compromise draft revision of the gas directive between the Member States of the European Union “fundamental differences in positions” remained. Under the revised directive, import gas pipelines would be subject to the antitrust rules of the EU’s internal market.

– The evaluations of the revised text differ significantly and will require further analysis – says the Austrian Presidency. The Austrians hold the presidency of the work of the Council of the European Union by the end of the year. They will be taken over by Romanians, perhaps more favorably of amending the directive, but limited in time, because in April 2019, the European institutions will have a break in their work because the elections to the European Parliament. It should be noted that the Austrian company OMV is the financial partner of the Nord Stream 2 project.

Prime Minister’s appeal

The Chairman of the European Parliament Research and Energy Industry Committee, Jerzy Buzek, writes a letter to the current Austrian and future Romanian Presidency. He wrote a letter to Elisabeth Kostinger, Minister of Sustainable Development and Tourism of Austria standing at the head of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union this year and to Anton Anton, Minister of Energy of Romania, who is to take over the presidency in the next half-year.

– An extensive and stable legal environment is a prerequisite for achieving the basic goals of the Energy Union – argues Buzek. – We need to finalize the latest legislative proposals, like the proposed revision of the gas directive – he adds.

– In view of the upcoming meeting of the Council of Ministers responsible for energy in the EU scheduled for 19 December 2018, we call on the Austrian Presidency together with the upcoming Romania presidency to prepare the ground for this key regulation by the European elections in May 2019 at the latest – he writes. In his opinion, the revision would remove the diversity of interpretations of the existing law and the “selective approach” of some countries to apply the third energy package to gas transmission pipelines within the European Union.

Although Buzek does not explicitly mention the contested Nord Stream 2, the planned gas pipeline from Russia to Germany under the revised directive would be subject to European Union anti-monopoly law, which would limit its negative impact on the market, but could also delay its implementation by adapting the project to legal requirements or to block the project in the event of the Russian owner’s decision not to comply with the regulations.