* Russia, EU differ on South Stream legitimacy
* EU rules restrict energy suppliers on pipeline ownership
(Adds detail, quotes)
By Darya Korsunskaya
MOSCOW, Dec 10 Deals between Russia and the
countries through which the Gazprom-led South Stream gas link is
to be built trump European Union rules, Russian Prime Minister
Dmitry Medvedev said on Tuesday, raising the stakes in a row
over the project.
The European Commission has said South Stream cannot operate
on EU territory unless it complies with the bloc's energy law,
and it could take years to do so.
According to the law, an owner of resources cannot also own
the infrastructure through which they are shipped.
South Stream as well as Nord Stream, which already carries
Russian gas to Europe via the Baltic Sea, are designed to bypass
transit countries, including Ukraine, which stand in the way of
Russian energy supplies to European markets.
Russia has signed intergovernmental agreements with a number
of countries, including Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary and Italy, on
the South Stream pipeline, which from 2018 is projected to carry
63 billion cubic metres of gas a year from Russia via the bed of
the Black Sea.
Moscow has pushed forward with the project despite protests
from EU authorities.
"Legal acts of the EU are considered to be national laws for
the countries of the EU ... (while) intergovernmental
agreements, signed by Russia and the above-named countries of
the EU are acts of international law," Medvedev told a news
"On the whole, there is a rule of precedence of
international law over national law. We only understand it this
Relations between Russia and the EU have deteriorated since
last year, when the bloc's executive Commission announced it was
investigating Gazprom on suspicion that the company
had hindered the free flow of gas across Europe and imposed
unfair prices in some cases.
EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said on
Wednesday that Gazprom had offered concessions to stave off
It is not clear what concessions Gazprom has offered.
"The ball is in the court of the European Union and we
expect an answer to our initiatives," said Medvedev, who chaired
the Gazprom board before 2008, when he was elected Russian
(writing by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Steve Gutterman and