Thursday

17th Oct 2019

Nord Stream II: The 'elephant' at the EU summit

  • Nord Stream I only uses half its capacity (Photo: www.nord-stream.com)

It will be the “elephant in the room,” when EU leaders meet in Brussels on Thursday (17 December) and Friday, one EU diplomat said of Nord Stream II - Germany and Russia’s € 11 billion plan to double the capacity of their Baltic Sea gas pipeline.

Germany says it will help EU energy security, by allowing Russia to keep supplying EU customers if it has another dispute with transit state Ukraine.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Its critics, mainly in eastern Europe, say it will: increase dependence on Russia; harm Ukraine, by ripping €2 billion a year from its budget; and violate the spirit of EU sanctions on Russia, which are designed to inflict pain in the energy and banking sectors.

They also note that with Nord Stream I currently operating at just 50 percent, there’s no market logic for expansion.

“The issue collides with sanctions against Russia. It’s bystepping the sanctions,” another EU diplomat said.

A third source said: “It's important not to undermine Ukraine’s energy stability.”

The US has voiced criticism. The issue is becoming so heated that even Italy, usually known as a friend of Russia, has joined the eastern European opposition.

Italian PM Matteo Renzi plans to speak out at the summit. Italian foreign minister, Paolo Gentiloni, said in Brussels on Monday: “We expect the European Commission to apply the same rigour in evaluating the project [Nord Stream II] as in other projects.”

His reference to “rigour” comes after the European Commission, last year, blocked a Russian pipeline to Italy, South Stream, on grounds it fell foul of EU single market law, the so called third energy package.

“It [Nord Stream II] has to comply with rules laid down by the third energy package,” another EU diplomat noted.

The “elephant” isn’t mentioned by name in the draft summit conclusions, seen by EUobserver.

Instead, the draft text says: “Any new infrastructure should entirely comply with the third energy package and other applicable EU legislation as well as with the objectives of the Energy Union, such as reduction of energy dependency and diversification of suppliers, sources, and routes.”

The EU commissioner in charge of energy union, Maros Sefcovic, had earlier said Nord Stream II isn’t good for Europe because it increases dependence on one “source”.

But Miguel Arias Canete, another EU commissioner who does energy, has said it is good because it diversifies “routes.”

“Pipelines for us are a nightmare,” another EU diplomat noted.

“Nabucco failed. South Stream failed. Turkish Stream failed and we have no alternative route there in the south, while we are to double the capacity in the north,” the source said, litsing three defunct EU and Russian pipeline projects.

Opinion

Nord Stream: The Sequel

Film studios like to back sequels as safe options, but why's Gazprom doing a follow-up to its German gas pipeline story?

Tusk: Nord Stream II doesn't help

Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, has said Nord Stream II, a new Russia-Germany gas pipeline, is not in the EU’s interests.

Sinkevičius pledges to 'listen' to climate protests

Lithuania's commissioner-designate, Virginijus Sinkevičius, unveiled during his three-hour hearing on Thursday a package of proposals to protect the environment - from the bottom of the oceans to the top of the sky.

Planned German coal exit boosts case for Nord Stream 2

German commission recommends phasing out coal power over the next 19 years - which will provide additional arguments to build the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia, which both the European Commission and the US have reservations about.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  2. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  3. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  4. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  6. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  10. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  12. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us