A European Union proposal to regulate Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline will receive France’s backing, according to the French foreign ministry. This is bad news for Germany, which is in favour of the project.
The European Commission wants to extend its internal energy market laws to offshore gas pipelines before construction is completed, giving it a say over how the new gas link under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany is used.
However, as reported by the Reuters news agency, Nord Stream 2, fully owned by Russian state energy firm Gazprom, is currently not be compliant with tougher new rules foreseen for new infrastructure projects.
Diplomatic sources told Reuters that Germany had been pressuring other European capitals to block the new directive.
“France intends to support the adoption of such a directive. Work is continuing with our partners, in particular with Germany, on possible changes to the text,” French foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll said in a briefing.
Any delay in building the pipeline would create uncertainty for Gazprom’s partners: Germany’s Uniper and BASF’s Wintershall unit, Anglo-Dutch Shell, Austria’s OMV and France’s Engie, reported Reuters.
But there is pressure from across the Atlantic. The US ambassadors to Germany, Denmark and the European Union urged EU members to vote against the pipeline.
“Cancelling the project would send a clear signal that Moscow cannot get away unscathed with its aggression against neighbouring states, and its meddling in our democracies,” they wrote in a joint op-ed published by Deutsche Welle on Thursday.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said Nord Stream 2 would not make Germany dependent on Russia for gas, stressing that Ukraine must remain a transit country.
“Do we become dependent on Russia due to this second gas pipeline? I say ‘no’, if we diversify at the same time,” Merkel told a news conference in Bratislava.