Bringing Energy Security to East Central Europe
April 7, 2010
The energy security challenges that for the past two decades have confronted the countries of Central and Southeastern Europe (CSEE) continued into 2010. The European Union still lacks an effective common energy policy or even a common energy market. The divisions between the interests of the older and newer EU members persist. The financial interests of the large European multinational energy companies dominate Europe’s reactions to Russian oil and gas export policies. Moscow’s pursuit of a “divide-and-conquer” policy toward Europe has not diminished. It continues to increase Russian leverage over the foreign and commercial policies of several EU member states. Gazprom is able to charge the poorer Baltic states higher natural gas prices than it does Germany and Italy, in part due to the weaker bargaining position of the CSEE states. Progress continues to be made by Gazprom in winning acceptance in Europe for both of its flagship pipeline projects: Nord Stream and South Stream, although there are a few indications that South Stream’s supporters may want to merge the project with the Nabucco pipeline. Any merger of the two projects, however, would likely result in Gazprom taking a strong blocking position on any Nabucco board. In any case, the long pursued Nabucco gas and Odessa-Brody oil pipeline projects, counted on to bring non-Russian energy supplies to Europe, remain bogged down as a result of supply uncertainties and effective counter steps on the part of Russia.