Friday

20th Apr 2018

Legal tweak could extend EU control on Russia pipeline

  • Pipeline to be operational by 2019 (Photo: Nord Stream)

The European Commission is preparing to amend EU energy law in order to rein in Russian plans for a new gas pipeline.

An EU source said the Commission could propose the amendment to its 2009 law on gas markets in early November.

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.

The change would redefine "interconnector" pipelines so that EU anti-monopoly laws, the so-called third energy package, applied in full to Nord Stream 2, Russia's new gas conduit to Germany.

The initiative comes amid mounting concern in Brussels and other EU capitals that the project would harm EU energy security by concentrating Russian supplies in one route.

Polish prime minister Beata Szydlo urged the Commission to take action at the summit in Brussels on Thursday.

The leaders of Austria, Denmark, Latvia, and Lithuania, as well as European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council chief Donald Tusk also spoke out in favour of strong EU regulation of Nord Stream 2, the EU source said.

The intervention by the Austrian chancellor, Christian Kern, who said the EU should diversify energy sources for the sake of lower prices, came as a surprise because Austrian energy firm OMV is planning to invest €950 million in Nord Stream 2.

Thursday's debate came in the context of two opposing legal opinions on Nord Stream 2 - from the Commission's lawyers and from the Council services.

The Commission lawyers said the third energy package should apply to the offshore section of Nord Stream 2 and that Commission officials should negotiate the legal model for the pipeline with Russia on behalf of the EU.

The Council said the EU had no jurisdiction and the Commission had no mandate for negotiations.

The EU source said German chancellor Angela Merkel also spoke out on Thursday.

She reportedly acknowledged Szydlo's point that Nord Stream 2 had a "political dimension", but she said she was against a Commission mandate for Russia talks.

Speaking to press after the Council debate, Juncker said "quite a number" of member states wanted EU-level intervention on the pipeline.

But he said "I don't feel we'll have unanimity" on giving the Commission a mandate to negotiate with Russia on behalf of the EU.

Szydlo told press: "I am pleased to say that my voice in the discussion was supported by other heads of governments, and the importance of this topic was supported by chairman Donald Tusk".

Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite told media on Friday morning there was a legal "battle" between EU Council and Commission lawyers on which rules applied to Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which she described as a "geopolitical" issue.

"That's why it's very much important to adapt the third energy package … and have clarity in future how to deal with third countries," she said.

The third energy package would force Russian firm Gazprom to run its pipeline via an independent operator and to let competing energy firms use the infrastructure.

Similar EU provisions led Russia to abandon a gas pipeline to Bulgaria under the Black Sea three years ago.

If Nord Stream 2 is built, 70 percent of all Russian gas imports to Europe would go via Germany, enabling Russia to cut off Baltic states or Poland for political reasons.

If it is built, it would also make Ukraine's gas transit network obsolete in a hammer blow to its economy at a time when it is trying to align with the West.

Merkel: Nord Stream 2 is 'political'

Germany has for the first time acknowledged concerns on the "political" and "strategic" aspects of Russia's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

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.

Magazine

Bioeconomy is a win-win strategy for Finland

"The big problem in the world today is a lack of resources and a lack of bio-diversity," says Finnish environment minister Kimmo Tiilikainen. His country plans to produce what the world needs the most.

Merkel: Nord Stream 2 is 'political'

Germany has for the first time acknowledged concerns on the "political" and "strategic" aspects of Russia's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

News in Brief

  1. Audit office: Brexit 'divorce' bill could be billions higher
  2. MEPs urge better protection for journalists
  3. Dieselgate: MEPs back greater role for EU in car approvals
  4. European parliament adopts new organic farming rules
  5. EU granted protection to half million people in 2017
  6. Report: Facebook to carve 1.5bn users out of EU privacy law
  7. Greek court ruling permits migrants to travel to mainland
  8. Commonwealth summit hopes for trade boost after Brexit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  2. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  3. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  4. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  5. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  6. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  7. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  10. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  11. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia

Latest News

  1. ECJ ruling set to end 10-year 'mouth tobacco' lobbying saga
  2. Whistleblowers, Syria and digital revolution This WEEK
  3. MEP friendship groups offer 'backdoor' for pariah regimes
  4. Macron and Merkel pledge euro reform
  5. Obscurity surrounds EU military fund's expert groups
  6. New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability
  7. Draghi to stay in secretive 'lobby' group
  8. Bulgaria offers lesson in tackling radical-right populists