EU wants to discuss approaches to South Stream project with Russia

The Russia-European Union Permanent Council's meeting to be held in Nicosia on Dec. 12 is expected to discuss the parties' common approaches to the construction of the South Stream gas pipeline, European Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger said on Monday.

Oettinger said the meeting is well prepared and inspires the hope that an agreement will be negotiated with the Russian partners at the Russia-EU summit on Dec. 20-21 in Brussels, and that the work will continue in 2013 based on common approaches.

The EU welcomes the project, he said.

But the EU countries asked the European Commission to highlight three provisions in the European law and guarantee compliance: environmental protection in line with European standards, and the observance of the rules of the single internal market and state purchases, Oettinger said.

Oettinger's press secretary Marlene Holzner again said at a press briefing in Brussels that the European Commission cannot so far judge to what extent the South Stream gas pipeline project complies with the European energy legislation.

She said that the EU has not seen the project and does not know where it will begin and where it will end, and that specifics of Russia's agreements with the countries interested in the project are not known, either.

She added that the Third Energy Package rules will apply to the South Stream pipeline alongside all other energy projects in the European Union.

This means, she said, that the South Stream owners will have to guarantee independent companies' unrestricted access to it in compliance with the Third Energy Package standards.

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