The European Commission warned Serbia on Wednesday that it must respect EU law ‘if they make business in Europe’, after a Gazprom official said that the construction of the Serbian stretch of the South Stream gas pipeline will start in October.
As an EU candidate member, Serbia is not bound to the same rules as EU member states. However, the EU’s executive spokesperson Marlene Holzner said that ‘ if the idea is to bring gas from Russia to Europe, you have to go through European territory and as we have said for all big infrastructure […] if you do business on European territory, you have to respect our legislation”.
South Stream construction work in Serbia will be begin regardless of the situation in Bulgaria, where the work has been suspended until the project is fully harmonized with the EU regulations.
Holzner reminded that regarding the Bulgarian section of South Stream, there was an infringement procedure ongoing which concerns the compatibility with EU public procurement rules of the pipeline in this country.
South Stream is a Russia-sponsored natural gas pipeline. As planned, the pipeline would run under the Black Sea to Bulgaria, and continue through Serbia with two branches to Bosnia and Herzegovina and to Croatia. From Serbia the pipelines crosses Hungary and Slovenia before reaching Italy. Its planned capacity is 63 billion cubic metres per year (bcm/y).