Thursday

23rd Nov 2017

Russia pipeline is security 'threat', US diplomat says

  • The Nord Stream II pipeline is designed to divide the EU, Shub said (Photo: turkstream.info)

Russia’s Nord Stream II gas pipeline is a threat to European security, a US diplomat has said, amid calls for the European Commission to intervene.

Adam Shub, the deputy US ambassador to the EU, in Brussels on Tuesday (6 December), mentioned the Russian-German project amid other instruments he said Russia was using to “create division” in Europe and to erode “shared transatlantic values”.

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.

  • EU Commission has stalled on appeals for a legal assessment (Photo: European Commission)

He said the armed conflict in Ukraine was “just the front line” in the “malign action”, which extended also to the EU and the Western Balkans.

“There are [Russian] attempts to influence the policy debate, support for political parties, we know that, in the European Parliament, for NGOs … attempts to acquire assets on the energy front, Nord Stream - these are threats to Europe and to transatlantic security”, he said.

Shub spoke at a conference organised by the Ceps think tank.

The Nord Stream II pipeline is a Russian project to double gas supplies to Germany, bypassing Ukraine and central European states.

Shub’s reference to Russian funding of political parties comes after revelations that France’s anti-EU National Front party, for one, received Russian loans, and amid Russia’s anti-EU propaganda campaign.

His comments framed the gas pipeline as part of Russia’s bigger strategy to weaken the EU and to restore its former sphere of influence.

Commission assessment

Several EU states including the Baltic countries, Poland, and Slovakia have urged the EU commission to issue a legal assessment of whether Nord Stream II meets EU single market laws.

The anti-Nord Stream II bloc believes that if the commission flagged up problems, for instance, on Russia’s monopoly of the infrastructure, it might discourage private investors from taking part.

“If you’re putting your money somewhere, and you think it might not be kosher, you would think twice”, an EU source said.

Denmark and Sweden, at a meeting of EU energy ministers in Brussels on Monday, also called for the commission to intervene.

Such a legal assessment would be an unprecedented step, as the commission does not normally vet projects in advance.

It has stalled on its response for now, but two EU energy laws, which are currently under discussion, could give it new oversight powers on Nord Stream II and similar deals in future.

One bill would enable it to demand all information pertaining to major energy contracts between private firms, with the exception of price information.

Watchdog laws

The second one would task it with giving a priori assessments of whether major intergovernmental agreements, which govern projects such as Nord Stream II, meet EU law.

The latter bill could come “on stream” before 2019, and could still catch Nord Stream II in its net, if member states and MEPs can agree on the final wording swiftly.

The law on transparency of private contracts could be in force by 2020, in time to catch Nord Stream II gas suppliers.

US policy

Shub’s comments on Russia’s “malign” actions come amid doubt on future US foreign policy following the election of Donald Trump, who praised Russia during his campaign.

The EU and US imposed economic sanctions on Russia due to its invasion of Ukraine.

Shub said on Tuesday that he “can’t predict the future” on US sanctions policy, but he said both Congress and civil servants in Washington were “committed” to the modernisation of Ukraine.

A successful Ukraine would be the “best antidote to the cynical model coming out of Russia”, he said.

EU countries are preparing to extend the life of their economic sanctions on Russia by another six months due to its non-compliance with the so-called Minsk ceasefire accord.

One option is to clinch a provisional agreement among ambassadors in the run-up to the EU summit on 15 December, but to adopt it a couple of days later, as a courtesy to EU leaders, who are meant to keep control of the file.

Luhansk water crisis

Speaking also at the Ceps conference in Brussels on Tuesday, Thomas Mayr-Harting, a senior diplomat at the EU foreign service, said that even if there was to be no “substantial” change in EU-Russia relations in the near future, they should still work together on issues “where there’s a shared interest”.

He listed the Iran nuclear non-proliferation deal, the Syria war, and Russian fees for EU airlines to fly over Siberia to Asia, as examples.

He also said they should work together on getting water to people in the Luhansk region in war-torn Ukraine, who risked a humanitarian “calamity”.

Magazine

Nord Stream 2: Business unusual

Neither sanctions, EU law nor politics can stop the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from being built, its small army of European lobbyists has said.

Opinion

Uncertainties multiply in EU's Russia policy

With Trump in the White House, the West’s Russia policy might substantially change, while Europe’s eastern policy is more uncertain than ever.

Mali blames West for chaos in Libya

Mali's foreign minister Abdoulaye Diop told the EU in Brussels that the lack of vision and planning following the Nato-led bombing campaign in Libya helped trigger the current migration and security crisis.

Opinion

The EU's half-hearted Ostpolitik

If, as the EU claims, the Eastern Partnership summit is not a format for conflict resolution, where else will the security issues that hold the region back be resolved?

News in Brief

  1. Spain sends migrant arrivals to unfinished prison
  2. Iceland prepares for biggest volcano to blow
  3. Greek parliament postpones debate on Saudi arms deal
  4. Family of murdered Malta journalist to sue police
  5. UK to sell RBS bank stake, boosting government coffers
  6. December euro summit still on, Tusk confirms
  7. EU calls for end to Kenya election crisis
  8. Report: Israeli PM invited to meet EU ministers

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Idealist Quarterly"Dear Politics, Time to Meet Creativity!" Afterwork Discussion & Networking
  2. Mission of China to the EUAmbassador Zhang Ming Received by Tusk; Bright Future for EU-China Relations
  3. EU2017EEEstonia, With the ECHAlliance, Introduces the Digital Health Society Declaration
  4. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement For All Families? Same Sex Couple Ask EU Court for Recognition
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC to French President Macron: We Oppose All Contact With Far-Right & Far-Left
  6. EPSUWith EU Pillar of Social Rights in Place, Time Is Ticking for Commission to Deliver
  7. ILGA EuropeBan on LGBTI Events in Ankara Must Be Overturned
  8. Bio-Based IndustriesBio-Based Industries: European Growth is in Our Nature!
  9. Dialogue PlatformErdogan's Most Vulnerable Victims: Women and Children
  10. UNICEFEuropean Parliament Marks World Children's Day by Launching Dialogue With Children
  11. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  12. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure

Latest News

  1. Germany's Schulz under pressure to enter coalition talks
  2. LuxLeaks trial re-opens debate on whistleblowers' protection
  3. Wilders says Russia is 'no enemy' ahead of Moscow visit
  4. EU must put Sudan under microscope at Africa summit
  5. Mali blames West for chaos in Libya
  6. Orban stokes up his voters with anti-Soros 'consultation'
  7. Commission warns Italy over high debt level
  8. Mladic found guilty for Bosnia genocide and war crimes

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic countries prioritise fossil fuel subsidy reform
  2. Mission of China to the EUNew era for China brings new opportunities to all
  3. ACCASmall and Medium Sized Practices Must 'Offer the Whole Package'
  4. UNICEFAhead of the African Union - EU Summit, Survey Highlights Impact of Conflict on Education
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Calls for Closer Co-Operation on Foreign Policy
  6. Swedish EnterprisesTrilogue Negotiations - Striking the Balance Between Transparency and Efficiency
  7. Access EuropeProspects for US-EU Relations Under the Trump Administration - 28 November 2017
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable Growth the Nordic Way: Climate Solutions for a Sustainable Future
  9. EU2017EEHow Data Fuels Estonia's Economy
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Step Up Water Management Cooperation
  11. CECEMachinery Industry Calls for Joint EU Approach to Develop Digital Construction Sector
  12. EnelNo ETS Deal Means It Can Still Be Strengthened