NGOs file complaints against Macedonian gas pipeline project
Date: September 19th 2023
Bankwatch and Eko-svest, two environmental NGOs, have filed three complaints against North Macedonia for allegedly breaching environmental regulations and competition rules over its planned gas interconnection with Greece.Two complaints were submitted to the Energy Community Secretariat and one to the European Anti-Fraud Office (Olaf) which investigates alleged mishandling of EU taxpayers’ money.
North Macedonia is building a 67km long gas pipeline with Greece in an effort to diversify its energy portfolio and end its reliance on Russian gas, which until now has been delivered via a pipeline that traverses Bulgaria.
In a joint statement, Bankwatch and Eko-svest said that the first two complaints concerned the guarantee provided for a EUR 41m loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB), which they say “did not pass through mandatory state aid checks” by the state office that protects competition in North Macedonia.
The EU has awarded the pipeline project a EUR 12.7m grant and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) may finance the remainder. The government said the whole project is expected to cost EUR 57.8m.
“Although promoted as a means of diversifying the country’s gas supply, in reality it would significantly increase gas imports and further lock the country into fossil fuel consumption and associated price fluctuations at a time when it should be decarbonising,” both NGOs said in the joint statement.
Consultation failureThe third complaint which has only been submitted to the Energy Community Secretariat states that North Macedonia has failed to organise a public consultation period in which the environmental impact of the pipeline can be discussed.
“When the North Macedonia government violated basic legal requirements during the environmental assessment process for the gas pipeline, they (EBRD and EIB) turned a blind eye,” said Ana Colovic-Lesoska, executive director of Eko-svest in the statement.
She added that the Energy Community Secretariat should now investigate and confirm their allegations and then order North Macedonia to repeat that part of the process.