WTO Says Croatia Discriminates Against Foreign Gas Pipeline Operators

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, August 13, 2018 – Croatia, Hungary and Lithuania discriminate against foreign gas pipeline operators, according to a finding of a panel of three adjudicators of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that thus sustained a part of objections made by the Russian Federation against the European Union’s gas market rules, the Reuters news agency has reported.

“The WTO panel also agreed that Croatia, Hungary and Lithuania had discriminated against Russia by requiring a security of energy supply assessment for foreign, but not domestic, pipeline operators,” Reuters has reported.

Moscow initiated this case in 2014, claiming that “the EU’s ‘Third Energy Package’ and the EU’s energy policy overall unfairly restricted and discriminated against Russia’s gas export monopoly Gazprom”.

Russia argued that the EU broke WTO rules by requiring the ‘unbundling’ of gas transmission assets and production and supply assets, which effectively stopped Gazprom – long the major supplier of gas to Europe – from owning the pipelines through which it sent gas to the European market, reads the article headlined “Russia loses bulk of WTO challenge to EU gas pipeline rules”.

Russia said the EU had unfairly discriminated in favour of liquefied natural gas and upstream pipeline operators by exempting them from those unbundling requirements and the panel of three WTO adjudicators ruled against Russia on those points. “However, they upheld Russia’s complaint about an unbundling exemption for Germany’s OPAL pipeline, granted on condition that Gazprom supplied no more than 50 percent of the gas in the pipeline.

“The 50 percent cap could only be exceeded if 3 billion cubic meters of gas was released annually at a fixed price to competing suppliers on the Czech market,” reads the article, among other things.

The Commission finds the ruling to be “an important positive outcome that secured the core elements of the Third Energy Package, a 2009 reform that sought to integrate the EU’s energy market while increasing competition.”

“The Commission will now analyze the ruling in detail, in particular as regards a limited number of issues on which the WTO-compatibility of EU energy policy has still not been recognized,” it said in a statement.


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