EU Solidarity and the Russian Gas Deal with Greece:
Blocking the Pipeline?
Natasha A Georgiou
ABSTRACT: On 19 June 2015, Greece and Russia signed a memorandum extending the proposed Turkish Stream gas pipeline to Europe through Greek territory. Although Greece maintained that cooperation with Russia should not be construed as a move against European partners, the deal may have implications for EU solidarity. The concept of solidarity, which is generally perceived to entail union from common responsibility and interests, is used in different legal contexts in the Treaty of Lisbon. Significantly, Article 122(1) TFEU anticipates that the EU institutions act ‘in a spirit of solidarity’ between Member States should there be any shortage of supply of energy. The Council made repeated references to solidarity during the 2009 gas crisis, when gas supplies to Europe came to an abrupt halt following a transit dispute between Russia and Ukraine that subsequently pushed energy security to the top of the EU agenda. Energy security is therefore an issue of bilateral tension and remains to be the ultimate test of the EU-Russia relationship as Brussels endeavours to overcome EU dependency on Russia by seeking to diversify its energy supplies. This was recently reaffirmed in the Commission’s gas stress test results, which concluded that greater solidarity was required between Member States and further diversification amongst their suppliers. In this respect, the signing of bilateral deals with Russia’s state-run gas monopoly Gazprom could be seen as undermining solidarity and the development of a coherent external energy policy within the EU, with the Russian gas deal with Greece furthering the argument.