Friday

20th Jul 2018

'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.

... our 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.

Opinion

EU must create safe, legal pathways to Europe

As the rapporteur for the European Parliament on an EU regulation on resettlement, my colleagues and I have outlined an effective plan based on solidarity and humanitarian principles.

News in Brief

  1. Libyan PM rejects EU migrant camps idea
  2. Italy's Salvini to sue critical anti-mafia writer
  3. EU countries send aircraft to Sweden to help with wildfires
  4. British ex-commissioner's jobs called into question
  5. May to tell EU to drop Irish border 'backstop' idea
  6. Trump threatens EU over Google fine
  7. Spain withdraws arrest warrant for Catalan separatists
  8. EU readies counter-measures on possible US car tariffs

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  2. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  4. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  5. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  7. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  8. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  10. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  12. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us