The unexpected decision by Russia to stop working on the controversial South Stream gas pipeline project demonstrates the need of the European Union to search for alternative energy sources, EU Commissioner, Kristalina Georgieva, said. Despite Vladimir Putin’s sudden decision, Brussels is still going to continue with its internal negotiations to sort out the problems that Russia blamed for the failure of its flagship project. The pipeline was to have bypassed Ukraine, going through Bulgaria, Serbia, Italy, and Austria, to the rest of the 28-country block. “Russia’s decision to stop South Stream and the way it was taken show why the diversification of the energy sources is important for Europe,” Ms Georgieva commented. “The Commission will closely examine the consequences of this decision and how we can speed up the interconnection of member states.”
The problems started when Bulgaria changed its mind about the pipeline in June this year after the EU said that Sofia had not complied with the EU competition legislation. Brussels specifically complained about the way Sofia had allocated contracts for the construction of the Bulgarian part of the pipeline. According to Ms Georgieva, who is a native of Bulgaria, Russia is using this situation as an excuse amidst ongoing conflict in Ukraine and Europe’s energy-related concerns. Commissioner Georgieva took a firm position saying that the Commission has always had a clear vision of the South Stream meaning that its construction should comply with EU rules. “This position is clear but it is in place for quite some time and it cannot be the reason for this decision by Russia” she added. Maros Sefcovic, the EU’s Vice-President for Energy Union, said separately that the Russian decision will not jeopardize an EU meeting on December 9 aimed to solve the Bulgaria problem. “The ever-changing energy landscape in the EU is yet another reason for the EU to build a resilient Energy Union with a forward-looking climate policy,” he concluded.