* Russian PM Putin takes aim at EU energy laws
* Putin says the laws prevent investment, amount to robbery
* Putin jokes about Europe's lack of energy resources
* Putin calls for EU-Russian alliance
By Gleb Bryanski
BERLIN, Nov 26 Russian Prime Minister Vladimir
Putin on Friday lashed out at European Union laws aimed at
liberalising the continent's energy market, saying they hinder
investment and amount to uncivilised "robbery".
Putin, speaking to an investor forum before talks with
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said the EU should consult
Russia when drafting such important legislation.
"Our companies, together with German partners, legally
acquired distribution assets in Lithuania. Now they are being
thrown out there with reference to the Third Energy Package.
What is this? What is this robbery?" Putin said.
"We often hear from our partners both in Europe and North
America: 'If you want to be members of a global family of
civilised nations, you should behave in a civilised way.' What
is this then? Have our colleagues forgotten the basic
The European Union agreed in March 2009 to liberalise energy
markets by splitting giant utilities, ensuring that small gas
suppliers can get unhindered access to European infrastructure
and compete on an equal footing with the dominant players.
The plan included a so-called "Gazprom Clause" designed to
prevent companies from outside the bloc -- such as Russia's
state-controlled giant Gazprom (GAZP.MM) -- from buying up
strategic distribution networks without approval by governments.
Criticism of the EU legislation has overshadowed Putin's
visit to Germany, where he was set to discuss a deal under which
German utility E.ON (EONGn.DE) would sell a $4.5 billion stake
in Gazprom to state-owned Russian bank VEB, whose board is
chaired by Putin. [ID:nLDE6AN01Q]
In response to Putin's criticism of the legislation ahead of
the visit, Merkel on Thursday lambasted Russia's protectionist
trade measures which she said were hurting German exports.
Putin mixed his criticism of the energy legislation with a
proposal for what amounts to an alliance with the European
Union, a step he said was essential for the survival of both
Russian and European civilisation. [ID:nWLA9223]
Putin said that Russia and the EU could one day even have a
joint currency zone and that Russia was looking at ideas for
increasing the role of the euro in energy trading.
Gazprom, the world's biggest natural gas company, supplies
about a quarter of Europe's gas needs, but Moscow has repeatedly
complained that European countries have blocked investment for
Russian energy companies.
European leaders have persistently called for ways to reduce
reliance on energy supplies from Russia, the world's biggest
energy producer, though Gazprom forecasts that Russia's share in
supplying the European gas market will rise over coming decades.
Putin quipped that if Europeans did not want gas or nuclear
energy, they would still have to rely on Russia for firewood to
heat their houses.
"I don't understand; how will you heat your houses? You do
not want gas, you do not want to develop nuclear energy. Where
will you get your heat from then? From firewood?"
"But even for firewood you will need to go to Siberia, you
do not even have wood," Putin said.
The European Commission declined to comment directly on
Putin's speech, but energy spokeswoman Marlene Holzner said the
disputed legislation -- known as the Third Energy Package --
would lead to open and integrated markets.
"The European Commission ... is convinced that the third
energy package will lead to open and integrated markets, which
is good for competition and good for security of supply,"
"Ensuring a good investment climate is one key aspect of the
internal market legislation and of the infrastructure package
that we recently presented."
(Reporting by Gleb Bryanski, writing by Guy Faulconbridge,
editing by Conor Humphries and Jane Baird)