Wednesday

20th Jun 2018

Opinion

Nord Stream II aims to undermine Energy Union

  • Pipes for the new Gazprom gas link (Photo: nord-stream2.com)

Last week, the industry and energy committee in the European Parliament voted in favour of bringing Nord Stream II under European law, re-establishing order, stability and predictability on the European energy market, as has always been the intention and ambition of the Energy Union.

Now, some are saying that the proposed legislation is not about Nord Stream II at all; and rightly so. It is about upholding European legislation, securing that energy projects in Europe operate under European market legislation.

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  • Map of proposed route of Nord Stream II (Photo: Nord Stream)

It is about ensuring competition, security of supply, commercial logics, competitiveness and diversity on the European energy markets.

Nord Stream II, however, just happens to represent the opposite and would therefore be affected by any legislation with the purpose of rolling out market reforms and boosting the resilience of the Energy Union.

There is an obvious reason as to why the Nord Stream II enthusiasts are also fiercely opposing the proposed legislation. The Gazprom pipeline simply does not have any commercial bearing.

Having to comply with European legislation would make it non-profitable, as its raison d'etre is not to address an actual need on the European gas markets, but rather to undermine the functioning and effectiveness of the European Energy Union and, while at it, circumventing Ukraine for gas transits, paving the way for further Russian strong-arming in the region.

Nord Stream II would concentrate roughly 80 percent of Russian gas transports to Europe on a single route and 26 percent of European gas consumption.

It would uproot the architecture of the European gas markets and, what is more, increase the dominance of state-controlled

Gazprom to the detriment of competition, security of supply and market reforms, in a defining time for the European Energy Union.

What Europe needs is more competition, market reforms and further diversity of energy sources and suppliers.

The proposed legislation voted on in the industry committee will not make that happen in a heartbeat, but it will nevertheless ensure that European law is upheld and applied on any major infrastructure project which could impact on our common objectives.

Sometimes matters are simpler than they appear to be at first.

Surely, the proposed legislation has spurred controversy in certain capitals; last week's vote, however, while wrapped in the usual legislative complexity, was merely a vote on whether European law is applicable in Europe.

To that end, the outcome was hardly shocking.

Gunnar Hokmark is head of the Swedish EPP delegation in the European Parliament

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