Russia is to file its second formal complaint against the EU with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) over the EU’s so-called ‘Third Energy Package,’ according to reports on Wednesday (30 April).
At the heart of the Russian complaint are expected to be EU provisions which prevent a single company from both owning and operating a gas pipeline. EU lawmakers agreed the rules, known as ‘ownership unbundling’, as part of its Energy Package on rules governing the bloc’s gas and electricity market. The new framework, which was agreed in 2009, is aimed at stimulating competition in the EU’s gas market and lower prices.
For its part, Russia claims that its state-owned energy giant Gazprom is the only company with the right to export gas and that the EU rules should not be backdated to cover contracts signed before 2009.
“These and other elements of the Third Energy Package, in the opinion of Russia, contradict the obligations of the EU in WTO on basic principles of non-discrimination and market access,” Maksim Medvedkov, a trade spokesman in Russia’s Economic development ministry, told local news agencies.
Under WTO procedures, EU and Russian trade officials will have 60 days to try and settle their differences before further legal action is taken.
The next step would be for the WTO to set up an arbitration panel to review the case.