Brussels — Mayer Brown advised the Russian Federation in a case brought before a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement panel against European Union (EU) energy regulations.

The Russian Federation lodged a complaint that included claims against the EU and several of its individual Member States as separate WTO Members, in relation to the Third Energy Package (TEP), as well as regulations governing investment in energy infrastructure. Russia included claims under both the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).
The WTO Panel issued its report today, 10 August, in which it upheld Russia’s claims regarding several important measures, which, when adopted, should secure significantly greater access to the EU market for Russian natural gas, pipeline transport services and service suppliers.

The Panel ruled that TEP requirements regarding certification of transmission system operators controlled by persons from third countries are discriminatory vis-a-vis third-country pipeline transport services and service suppliers. The Panel also found that the design, architecture and revealing structure of EU conditions for the OPAL pipeline restrict market access and limit competitive opportunities for the importation of Russian natural gas into the EU. Further, the Panel ruled that the EU’s Trans-European Networks for Energy Regulation (TEN-E regulation) discriminates against imports of Russian gas.

It was the first dispute in the history of either the GATT or the WTO in which a Panel was required to rule upon legal aspects of trade in energy via fixed infrastructure.

Russia and the EU will each have 60 days to appeal the Panel report.

The Mayer Brown team was led by Brussels Government & Global Trade partner Nikolay Mizulin and included Washington DC Counsel Jeffery C. Lowe and Brussels Government & Global Trade associate Dylan Geraets.