EU: Serbia Can Build South Stream in Line with Rules

BRUSSELS, Sept. 17, 2014, (Beta) - European Commission officials in Brussels said on Sept. 17 that Serbia could build its branch of the South Stream natural gas pipeline and that, as a non-EU member, it was not subject to the European Union's market laws, but stressed that the project would have to follow Energy Community rules.

Marlene Holzner, media representative of European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger, said that, "whether it is Bulgaria or Serbia," if they receive Russian gas, that gas has to pass through EU territory, and as in any other business happening on EU territory, EU law must be followed.

Asked about the EU's position on Russian gas giant Gazprom's announcement that the construction of the Serbian branch of South Stream would start in October, Holzner said that Serbia could not be prevented from building the gas pipeline, and that any violations of energy regulations would be considered after the pipeline was put into operation.

Asked whether the construction of South Stream could affect Serbia's accession talks with the EU, Peter Stano, the enlargement commissioner's spokesman, said the issue would be on the agenda when deciding on opening the negotiations chapter dealing with energy. He added that this particular chapter could not be closed until all energy-related issues were brought in line with EU standards.

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