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The European Commission will work to ensure the integration of Ukraine in EU markets and support competition in eastern European countries as a means to minimize the impact of the NordStream 2 and TurkStream projects, an EU official told ICIS.

Klaus-Dieter Borchardt, the deputy director general of the European Commission’s directorate-general for energy, said in an interview that Ukraine could be integrated into the European gas market through at least one of the four high-pressure pipelines which travel from the Ukrainian border to the Austrian Baumgarten hub via Slovakia, ICIS reports.

Currently 77% of the capacity of these four pipelines is booked by Gazprom, but only 60% of it is used.

When Ukraine’s transit contract with Gazprom ends this year and Russian volumes may be rerouted to NordStream 2, one of those four pipelines can be used for reverse flows between Ukraine and Austria.

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Representatives of the commission, Ukraine and Russia are expected to hold trilateral talks in May to discuss the future of transit after 2020.

Borchardt, speaking on the sidelines of the “Fight for EU energy security” conference organised by Politico in Brussels, said that the commission would support the view that Ukraine should be able to offer 90 billion cubic meters/year of transit capacity towards Europe, while Russia should commit to transit to Ukraine 60bcm/year.

However, he added that Ukraine must also prepare for a future where Russian transit would be discontinued.

Russia has previously argued that the transit of gas via Ukraine would be stopped at the end of 2019 and volumes rerouted via NordStream 2, which would link Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea.

Borchardt was sceptical that the rerouting of Russian transit via NordStream 2 would happen from next year, pointing out the pipeline required a ramp-up period, which may last until 2023.

Ukraine observers have argued that NordStream 2 was a political project designed to isolate Ukraine.