Wednesday

18th Sep 2019

'Victory for Kremlin' as Germany backs Russia pipeline

  • Russian gas pipeline backed mainly by Austria, Germany, and Netherlands (Photo: nord-stream2.com)

Germany has given the go-ahead for a Russian gas pipeline despite the furore over Russia's attack in the UK.

The Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) in Berlin said Russia could build the pipeline, called Nord Stream 2, on Tuesday (27 March), one day after Germany and other EU states expelled Russian diplomats over Russia's use of a chemical weapon to try to kill a former spy in England.

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

  • US has threatened sanctions against EU firms if they co-finance the pipeline (Photo: thisisbossi)

"We are pleased that all necessary permits are now in place for the German route section," Jens Lange, the head of the Nord Stream 2 consortium, said.

Permits from Denmark, Finland, and Sweden, whose Baltic Sea zones are to host pipe segments, were also "expected to be issued in the coming months" and Nord Stream 2 will be built this year "as planned", the consortium, an offshoot of Russian state firm Gazprom, said.

The BSH analysis showed Nord Stream 2 "will contribute to increasing security of supply and competition in the EU gas market", the Russian company added.

The pipeline is a purely "economic project", German chancellor Angela Merkel and foreign minister Heiko Mass recently reaffirmed.

Those views are diametrically opposed to positions taken by most EU states, EU institutions, and the US.

The pipeline, which will concentrate 80 percent of Russian gas sales to the EU on the German route, will help the Kremlin to blackmail other European states with supply cuts and will make a mockery of international sanctions imposed over Russia's aggression in the UK and in Ukraine, its critics have said.

"Big victory for Kremlin, helps to increase EU energy dependency on Russia and make Ukraine more vulnerable," Bob Seely, an MP from Britain's ruling Conservative Party, said on Tuesday in one of the first reactions to the German permit.

"It [Nord Stream 2] is completely in contradiction with EU energy policy," Lithuanian foreign minister Linas Linkevicius recently told EUobserver.

Linkevicius said the UK attack had changed nothing in terms of Germany's outlook on the gas project.

"It's the same. The SPD is back on board and everybody knows its position on Nord Stream 2," he said, referring to the centre-left SPD party, which recently struck a new coalition deal with Merkel and which backs the pipeline deal.

The fate of Nord Stream 2 remained uncertain despite the BSH permit, Seely, the British MP noted.

Denmark, Finland, and Sweden could deny Russia permission to use their maritime zones, the MP said, forcing Gazprom to reroute the pipeline at a higher cost.

The US has threatened to impose sanctions on the EU firms - Engie, OMV, Uniper, Shell, and Wintershall - planning to co-finance the pipeline, which could force Russia to find the money elsewhere.

June summit

EU leaders might also put pressure on Germany to halt Nord Stream 2 at a summit in June, British prime minister Theresa May told British MPs earlier on Monday.

Meanwhile, the European Parliament is preparing to pass legislation to make offshore pipelines, including Nord Stream 2, subject to EU anti-monopoly rules, potentially weakening Moscow's grip on the new infrastructure.

The European Commission "has the legal basis to make the proposal" for the new pipeline law, according to a legal opinion by the EU Council, where member states meet, which was drafted on Monday and seen by the Reuters news agency.

Previous legal opinions said EU states and institutions had no power to force Germany to stop the project or to force Russia to accept the EU anti-monopoly rules in international waters, however.

US mauls Germany over Russia pipeline

US leader Donald Trump, backed by Poland, has begun the Nato summit with a tirade against Germany's plan to build a pipeline with Russia.

News in Brief

  1. EU adds €100m to research and Erasmus budgets
  2. Ambassador: UK Poles should 'seriously considering' leaving
  3. Trump's UK ambassador stirs up anti-EU feeling
  4. Brexit chaos is lesson to other EU states, ECB governor says
  5. EU condemns Israel's latest land grab
  6. Scotland to keep some laws aligned with EU after Brexit
  7. Spain to hold fresh election in November
  8. Turkey ups pressure on visa-free entry into EU

Column

These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission

These developments will largely determine who will be running the world in the coming decades and perhaps generations. If the Europeans can't find an answer over the five years, they will be toast. And we haven't even mentioned climate change.

Opinion

Time to pay attention to Belarus

Belarus may be hosting the European Games, but Vladimir Putin is not playing games when it comes to Belarus' independence. The West needs to get serious as well.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Latest News

  1. A new Commission for the one percent
  2. Juncker: No-deal Brexit 'palpable'
  3. Germany adopts blockchain strategy and says no to Libra
  4. Revanchist Russia continues to rewrite European history
  5. How EU trains discriminate against the disabled
  6. These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission
  7. Defending the 'European way of life' name splits MEPs
  8. Hungary claims EU 'witch-hunt' over rule of law hearing

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us