Germany loses Gazprom gas pipeline appeal, victory for Poland

The logo of Russian gas giant Gazprom is seen on a panel at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), Russia, June 6, 2019. REUTERS / Maxim Shemetov

BRUSSELS, July 15 (Reuters) – Germany on Thursday lost its fight against a decision limiting Gazprom’s (GAZP.MM) access to the OPAL pipeline that connects the Russian gas producer’s Nord Stream pipeline to the country after the most European high court sided with Poland.

The case is part of a long-standing dispute over the transport of Russian gas to Europe, which has pitted Poland and other Eastern European countries against Germany.

Opal connects the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline to European onshore networks. The 470 km (292 mile) pipeline connects northern Germany to the Czech Republic and has an annual capacity of 36 billion cubic meters of natural gas.

Russia plans to double its gas export capacity to Germany through its Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, which will use its own land link, called Eugal.

Germany appealed to the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) after a lower court in 2019 overturned an EU decision allowing Gazprom to increase deliveries to Europe via the pipeline OPAL. The court’s decision followed a Polish challenge to the European Commission’s decision.

The CJEU rejected Germany’s arguments that “energy solidarity” is a political concept rather than a legal issue, saying the Commission is required to examine possible risks to the security of gas supply on the markets of EU countries.

“The legality of any act of the European institutions relating to the energy policy of the European Union must be assessed in the light of the principle of energy solidarity”, declared the judges.

The case is C-848/19 P Germany v Poland.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, additional reporting by Vera Eckert in Frankfurt; edited by David Goodman and Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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