Friday

2nd Dec 2022

Poland compares German-Russian pipeline to Nazi-Soviet pact

The Polish defence minister has compared a planned German-Russian gas pipeline to the 1939 Hitler-Stalin deal partitioning Poland, with EU energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs also criticising the gas project.

The 1,200 km pipeline is currently under construction and will link Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea, bypassing states which maintain problematic ties with Moscow such as Poland, the Baltic states and Ukraine.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

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

... or subscribe as a group

  • Warsaw fears the new pipe will make it easier for Moscow to cut off its energy supplies (Photo: Gazprom)

The project, agreed by former German chancellor Gerhard Schroder and Russian president Vladimir Putin in 2005, has sparked repeated criticism from Poland and Lithuania which say Germany should have consulted fellow EU member states.

Polish defence minister Radek Sikorski at a transatlantic conference in Brussels on Sunday (30 April) compared the pipeline to the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, named after the Soviet and Nazi foreign ministers who divided Poland in a secret protocol.

"Poland has a particular sensitivity to corridors and deals above our head. That was the Locarno tradition, that was the Molotov-Ribbentrop tradition. That was the 20th century. We don't want any repetition of that," Mr Sikorski said according to Reuters.

He argued that Germany should have spoken to Poland before striking the deal.

"Taking the decision first and consulting us later is not our idea of solidarity," the minister said, while attacking current German chancellor Angela Merkel for not cancelling the deal made by the previous government.

"We asked. She refused," Mr Sikorski stated.

Bad for consumers

The Polish minister said the pipeline under the Baltic Sea would be $6 billion (€4.8 billion) more expensive than land-based gas pipeline projects through Poland, leading to higher energy prices for consumers.

"Germany is an important partner for us. We are astonished that Germany would do something which doesn't benefit consumers and the geopolitical objective of which is to be able to cut off Belarus and Poland without cutting off Germany," he explained.

"The Russian ambassador to Belarus said last week when the Baltic pipeline is built, [Russian state gas monopoly] Gazprom will be able to cut off Belarus without cutting off Germany. That means Poland too."

EU energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs backed Warsaw's criticism of Germany's unilateral approach to Russia.

"We should never have the situation we will have with this pipeline, where one partner country decided a project that is not acceptable to others, not even discussing it," he said.

The European Commission in a landmark green paper on energy in March proposed the development of a "common external energy policy" towards Moscow.

Currently, Russia's state gas monopoly Gazprom provides about 30 percent of gas supplies for France, Germany and Italy, and over 90 percent to new EU member states in central and eastern Europe.

Russia also supplies about one quarter of Europe's oil.

EU seeks US help

Speaking at the same conference, commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said that Moscow should open its energy market to competition if it expects to gain further access to European markets.

"If we put an open, competitive European market at the disposal of Russia then we expect reciprocity. An open, competitive market for us. But here lies the difference between us," he indicated, according to Polish media.

Mr Barroso added that Brussels and Washington will put the thorny issue on the agenda of a G8 leaders' meeting in St Petersburg in July.

"The EU and US must together send a clear signal on the need to change the paradigm in energy matters. I will give such a message at the next EU-US summit in June and also at the St Petersburg summit in July."

"As constructive partners [together with the US] we should clearly declare our discomfort at the developments in Russia," he added.

EU queries state aid in German-Russian gas deal

EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes has asked the German government to explain why it has offered a financial guarantee for a plan to build a €5 billion gas pipeline between Russia and Germany.

Portugal was poised to scrap 'Golden Visas' - why didn't it?

Over the last 10 years, Portugal has given 1,470 golden visas to people originating from countries whose tax-transparency practices the EU finds problematic. But unlike common practice in other EU states with similar programmes, Portugal has not implemented "due diligence".

Socialists opposed parliament taking Qatar rights stand

The socialists in the European Parliament are leading compromise talks on human rights in Qatar despite voting against putting the issue to a plenary vote. The move comes after the Left demanded that the European Parliament take a stand.

Portugal was poised to scrap 'Golden Visas' - why didn't it?

Over the last 10 years, Portugal has given 1,470 golden visas to people originating from countries whose tax-transparency practices the EU finds problematic. But unlike common practice in other EU states with similar programmes, Portugal has not implemented "due diligence".

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. Belarus dictator's family loves EU luxuries, flight data shows
  2. How Berlin and Paris sold-out the EU corporate due diligence law
  3. Turkey's EU-funded detention centres ripe with abuse: NGO
  4. In green subsidy race, EU should not imitate US
  5. EU Commission proposes suspending billions to Hungary
  6. EU: Russian assets to be returned in case of peace treaty
  7. Frontex leadership candidates grilled by MEPs
  8. Portugal was poised to scrap 'Golden Visas' - why didn't it?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  2. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  4. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  6. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us