EU court rejects Germany's appeal, issues favourable verdict for Poland

Having rejected Germany's appeal against its ruling cancelling the European Commission (EC) decision to grant Gazprom 100 percent of the Opal pipeline's capacity, the EU top court has issued a favourable verdict for Poland.

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled on Thursday that, contrary to arguments presented by Germany, the compatibility of every EU document regarding energy policy should be evaluated with view to the principle of energy solidarity.

In 2016, following a German motion, the EC lifted a cap on Gazprom's use of the Opal pipeline, which connects the Nord Stream I pipeline with the Yamal pipeline infrastructure and pipeline systems in the Czech Republic.

The pipeline runs through Germany along Poland's western border. Its annual capacity reaches 36 billion cubic metres of natural gas, with deliveries to customers in Germany and the Czech Republic.

Poland, supported by Latvia and Lithuania, motioned the CJEU to cancel the EC decision, explaining that it threatened the security of natural gas deliveries to the EU, and especially to Eastern Europe.

In 2019, the CJEU issued a favourable ruling for Poland by cancelling the EC decision to grant Gazprom 100 percent of the Opal pipeline's capacity.

Germany appealed the verdict, maintaining that 'energy solidarity is only a political concept, and not a legal one.'

Explaining its Thursday verdict, the CJEU stated that, in accordance with the EU treaties, EU energy policy is designed - in the spirit of solidarity among EU members - to secure the functioning of the energy market, ensure energy supplies to the EU, support energy effectiveness, develop new renewable energy sources and support mutual links between energy networks.

The court also said that the principle of solidarity was the basis of EU law, and that it was inseparably connected with the principle of loyalty, which obliged the EU and its members to respect and support each other while fulfilling tasks imposed by the treaties.