Changing Pipelines, Shifting Strategies: Gas in South-Eastern Europe, and the Implications for Ukraine

01-07-2015

Plans for gas pipelines in south-eastern Europe have experienced great upheaval in recent years, the result of business competition as well as the ongoing stand-off between Europe and Russia. The projects' advances and reversals reflect shifting strategies: those of new suppliers to find clients, those of traditional suppliers to conserve their markets and avoid regulatory impediments, and those of both suppliers and clients to ensure greater reliability. For many, this means planning to bypass Ukraine. Yet Europe a as a whole does not have a single, coherent strategy. Different European countries have divergent relations with Moscow, and their multiple approaches to energy security impede coherence, particularly when it comes to Ukraine. Even within the EU institutions, the messages sometimes appear contradictory, with political declarations deviating from the technical statements of the European Commission. Ukraine's fate – whether or not it remains a transit country for gas to the EU – depends on multiple factors: its own internal reforms, its integration with the EU market, and the EU's continued support.

Plans for gas pipelines in south-eastern Europe have experienced great upheaval in recent years, the result of business competition as well as the ongoing stand-off between Europe and Russia. The projects' advances and reversals reflect shifting strategies: those of new suppliers to find clients, those of traditional suppliers to conserve their markets and avoid regulatory impediments, and those of both suppliers and clients to ensure greater reliability. For many, this means planning to bypass Ukraine. Yet Europe a as a whole does not have a single, coherent strategy. Different European countries have divergent relations with Moscow, and their multiple approaches to energy security impede coherence, particularly when it comes to Ukraine. Even within the EU institutions, the messages sometimes appear contradictory, with political declarations deviating from the technical statements of the European Commission. Ukraine's fate – whether or not it remains a transit country for gas to the EU – depends on multiple factors: its own internal reforms, its integration with the EU market, and the EU's continued support.