Energy security southeastern Europe
The announcement of Vladimir Putin on Monday 1 December that he will no longer build the South Stream gas pipeline as a result of EU opposition, forces the EU to create an alternative gas supply for southeastern Europe. On a press conference in Ankara on Monday, together with the Turkish President Erdogan, Putin stated that Russia cannot continue with the realisation of the South Stream project because the position of the European Commission is not constructive. The pipeline, that should enter the EU via Bulgaria, was opposed by the EU on the basis of anti-monopoly laws. The pipeline was seen to increase EU energy dependence on Russia. At the same press conference, it was announced that Turkey could be Russia’s partner for an alternative pipeline.
However, the success in blocking the South Stream opens again the question of secure energy supplies to southeastern Europe. The rationale for the South Stream was the January 2009 price dispute that stopped gas transiting Ukraine. The South Stream would bypass Ukraine and hence increase security of supply. Also, Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Donchev, to visit Brussels on Thursday 4 December, stated he expects “special attention” from the EU to mitigate the economic damage to Bulgaria now the project came to a halt. The same holds for Serbia, that would gain economically from constructing the pipeline.
Kristalina Georgieva, the European Budget Commissioner, said on Tuesday 2 December that the EU would speed up work to help provide more energy security for southeastern Europe, including by financing gas connectors between Bulgaria, Romania and Greece.