Margrethe Vestager, the EU Commissioner for Competition, made a long-awaited announcement May 24th, outlining the final decision on the anti-trust investigation against Gazprom. The media headlines picked different angles, some cheered the move for defending CEE customers, others pointed to a more pessimistic and pragmatic read – no fine for Gazprom. The press release alluded to the main achievement in the eye of the watchdog – the Russian gas giant had finally agreed to play ball. At a closer look, feelings are mixed and certainly a far cry from unqualified praise for the DG COMP’s work as the expectations in the CEE countries that Gazprom will be disciplined and punished for abusing its monopoly status were naturally greater. The decision would undoubtedly raise eyebrows, when compared with a
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The emerging ruling coalition in Germany might be experiencing hiccups when it comes to agreeing on complex issues, but the Nord Stream-2 project has proven a consensual ground. The German government has formally objected to the EC-proposed amendments to the EU Gas Directive citing trivial protectionist arguments atypical for a nation that pretends to lead the EU. The German government’s interpretation of its support for the Nord Stream-2 is that it is not defending Gazprom’s, but Germany’s own national interests, implying that German and Gazprom interests — Russia’s — are identical and run counter to the European Commission embodied shared interests. This is essentially Berlin’s bottom line – EU is dear to us, but when it comes to cash – our interests rate higher. There is nothing fundamentally
The article first published in americanthinker.com on 09/18/2017. Commenting on Jean-Claude Junker’s state of the European Union speech last week, the usually restrained German economic weekly, Wirtschafts Woche, said the following: “Today the chief of the European Commission gave a great speech… a speech full of great nonsense.” What prompted that staid publication to use such undiplomatic language, especially since the European Parliament gave the speech a standing ovation? Hopefully, it is the realization of more and more Europeans that the cheap EU triumphalism and prescriptions peddled by Juncker are, at best, inappropriate and, at worst, a recipe for disaster. Of triumphalism there was plenty in the speech. “The wind is back in Europe’s sails” Junker assured the audience and told it that the EU is “in the fifth year
Early in 2017, headlines speculating about the possible outbreak of renewed war in the Balkans have popped up in the international press. Tensions that have been simmering in the Western Balkans in recent years are now gaining increasing attention in the sphere of geopolitics, particularly as they relate to the battle between the West and Russia for influence in the region. The West is now becoming increasingly concerned that Russia will stoke nationalism in the Balkans in order to ignite conflict, cause destabilization and consequentially halt Euro-Atlantic expansion. While ethnic tensions are a core and explosive issue in the region, economic productivity, or lack thereof, may be as responsible if not more for the instability that exists in the Western Balkans. The region’s poor economic prospects have much to
The contours of the leaked decision of the EC following Commissioner Vestager’s meetings with top managers of Gazprom and Russia’s deputy minister of energy spells new peaks of national energy egotism in the European Union. At the end of October, news broke of another Gazprom-friendly EC decision to free up to 80 percent of the capacity of the Opal pipeline, which connects the Nord Stream pipeline from Germany to Czechia. More than 10 billion cubic meters of natural gas will be added to the current Opal volumes, which in turn will have to be deducted from the transit flows in the Yamal pipelines in Poland and the gas transit system of Ukraine. Benefits and income generated so far in Eastern Europe will be shifted westwards to Germany and Western Europe,