Friday

23rd Feb 2024

Poland presses EU on Russian gas pipeline

  • Russian firm Gazprom aims to start NordStream II construction this year (Photo: nord-stream.com)

Poland is putting pressure on the European Commission (EC) to rule whether a new Russian gas pipeline conforms with EU law.

Polish prime minister Beata Szydlo told press after an EU summit in Brussels on Friday (21 October) that “more and more countries are highlighting the role of the commission in Nord Stream [the pipeline]”.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Szydlo and Szymanski at the EU summit on Friday (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

“We expect the commission to fulfil its duties, to defend the directives that we passed, to check whether all the norms, conditions for such an investment are being respected. Our strong voice was supported by the the Visegrad Group [a club containing Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia], Baltic, and Balkan countries”, she said.

Konrad Szymanski, Poland’s EU affairs minister, said that Nordic states are also “in favour of a clear stance of the commission on the legal situation of Nord Stream”.

He said EU institutions and member states should take “shared responsibility” for deciding on the pipeline.

Poland has so far taken the lead in trying to block Nord Stream II.

The Russian pipeline is to ship huge volumes of gas to Germany from 2019, bypassing Poland and Ukraine, and making Germany more secure and central Europe less secure in energy supply terms.

The Polish anti-trust regulator recently raised a red flag on Nord Stream II, spooking some of the Western investors involved.

If the commission were to rule that its offshore parts must fully comply with EU energy laws, reducing Russia’s control over the infrastructure, the project could be put in doubt.

Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said in June that EU lawyers were in talks with German regulators to find the right “legal framework” for the scheme, but he has not yet said what that might be.

Denmark, Finland, and Sweden also have to give permits for Nord Stream II to use their maritime zones.

The chief of the Swedish armed forces, last week, said Sweden should say No because the Russian military would reserve the right to access the structures.

The pipeline talks come during a nadir in EU-Russia relations due to its bombing of civilians in Syria and its invasion of Ukraine.

Russia still has friends in the European Council, however.

Italy on Thursday blocked a proposal by France, Germany, Poland, and the UK to threaten to blacklist Russian officials over the Syria air strikes.

German chancellor Angela Merkel, despite her tough stance on Syria and Ukraine, has declined to speak out on Nord Stream II, while the second power in Germany, the centre-left SPD party, is strongly in favour of it.

Szydlo said on Friday it was “wrong” of Italy to have blocked the Syria sanctions threat.

Szymanski said the same in an opinion article in the Financial Times newspaper, adding that Nord Stream II would make a mockery of the EU existing Russia sanctions, imposed over Ukraine.

It would mean “the EU in effect gives succour to a regime whose aggression it seeks to punish through sanctions” he said.

Symanski told press on Friday that Poland had also highlighted Russia’s anti-EU propaganda campaign and its influence operations in Europe as points of concern during the summit.

He added that EU states “still need to find a common denominator, because countries far from the Russian border don't see it as a problem”.

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.

Feature

Only Palestinians paying thousands of dollars leave Gaza

Despite the high risk of dying from war, starvation or disease, Gazans are still not allowed to enter Egypt. Except those who bribe the authorities. And the EU mission EUBAM Rafah cannot be deployed due to security reasons.

Latest News

  1. Energy and minerals disputes overshadow new EU-ACP pact
  2. Germany speeds up Georgia and Morocco asylum returns
  3. How Amazon lobbyists could be banned from EU Parliament
  4. Blackmailing the Global South on EU carbon border tax won't work
  5. EU auditors: rule-of-law budget protections only partial success
  6. EU's €723bn Covid recovery fund saw growth, but doubts remain
  7. Von der Leyen rejects extremist parties, leaves door open to ECR
  8. Russian oligarchs failed to get off EU blacklist

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  2. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  3. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  5. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  6. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us