Polish Briefing 28 May, 2018 9:00 am   
Editorial staff

Polish Briefing: The gas directive versus the agreement for Ukraine

What goes on in Poland on the 28th of May.

Work is in progress on the revision of the gas directive, which will make it possible to submit the contested Nord Stream 2 project to EU law. Deputy Minister of Energy, Michał Kurtyka, said that from the Polish point of view, the German side may seek to delay the work on revision.

The gas directive versus the agreement for Ukraine

– We are entering a stage of intense discussion. On one hand, we are talking about the amendment of the gas directive and the interesting signal of Chancellor Angela Merkel that Nord Stream 2 also has a political dimension – says the minister to – Appreciating that our Western partner has finally noticed this aspect, we see the risk that it will be attempted to sell it through a superficial reference to the problems that Nord Stream 2 creates.

– An attempt was made to build a narrative around Ukraine and guarantee transit, which would supposedly calm the situation. This is not enough for us. The best proof is the situation of Ukraine itself. Ukraine was the beneficiary of the Budapest memorandum, which guaranteed its sovereignty in exchange for getting rid of nuclear weapons. One of the guarantors was Russia and it broke these guarantees – Kurtyka reminds. – What guarantee do we have that will not be similar to the guarantees regarding the level of supply through the Ukrainian territory? – he asks.

– It’s a dangerous arrangement. It assumes that the Ukrainian system will be largely isolated – said Michał Kurtyka. – The market aspect is fundamental. There is no doubt that Gazprom has abused its position in Central and Eastern Europe. With Nord Stream 1 and 2, it will only encourage further action and strengthen the monopoly. We raise this in a discussion with the European Commission and our partners.

A game for delay? asked the minister about the postulate of Germany, who wanted to take part in Ukraine-Russia talks on the conditions for maintaining transit through Ukrainian territory after the construction of Nord Stream 2. Will they represent the entire Union, including Poland? – I do not see a possibility that such talks would give credible guarantees to Gazprom in a situation where we were unable to guarantee the territorial sovereignty of that country. I think that this postulate is a delayed work on the revision of the gas directive – the minister replied.

The revision proposed by the European Commission assumes that projects such as Nord Stream 2 will be subject to EU law. This would involve the need to negotiate the EC-Russia on the conditions for the implementation of this law, which could at least delay the project. In the absence of Russia’s consent or the acceptance of the European Parliament, the project could be rejected.

According to, the problem is also the fact that a possible agreement on maintaining minimum supplies through Ukraine may put critics of this project, such as Poland or Lithuania at a disadvantage, as they point to the multifaceted nature of the problem, beyond the stability of the transmission over the Dnieper. They talk about market, regulatory, political and security threats. After the agreement with Ukraine, their arguments may be excluded from the discussion. At the same time, the revision of the directive is at least partly responsible for these fears. German diplomacy may seek to postpone or stop work on it, suggesting that a transit arrangement is enough – convince Polish officials.