21st Mar 2018

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

  • Nord Stream I only uses half its capacity (Photo:

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.


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.

US yet to push on Nord Stream 2 sanctions

Washington would still like to block a planned gas pipeline between Russia and Germany but is not yet considering hitting companies involved in the project.

EU to pump €101m into Cyprus gas network

The EU also agreed on financing a study into the Southern Gas Corridor, to send a signal that the EU is still invested in the project - but leaves questions over renewable energy sources.

Austria sues Commission over Hungary's nuclear plant

Anti-nuclear Austria takes the EU Commission to court over Hungary's controversial Paks II nuclear plant, financed and built by Russia. But it is the Euratom treaty itself that could be on trial.

News in Brief

  1. Separatist activist renounces Catalonia leadership candidacy
  2. EU puts conditions on Bayer-Monsanto merger
  3. Hard Brexit would hit poorer Irish households hardest
  4. Finland hosts secretive North Korean talks
  5. EU to unveil 3% tax on digital giants
  6. German elected S&D leader in European Parliament
  7. Germany: nearly €350m child benefit goes abroad
  8. Norway's far-right doubles support as minister resigns

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverStart a Career in EU Media. Apply Now to Become Our Next Sales Associate
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?

Latest News

  1. EU praises Turkey on migrant deal despite Greek misery
  2. Judicial reforms 'restore balance', Poland tells EU
  3. Whistleblower fears for life as US arrests Malta bank chair
  4. Behind the scenes at Monday's EU talks on Russia
  5. US yet to push on Nord Stream 2 sanctions
  6. EU mulls coercion to get refugee kids' fingerprints
  7. Five east European states prevent new CAP consensus
  8. EU to probe UK 'election-rigging' firm