EU gives up blocking Russia’s Nord Stream-2 pipeline - report
In a turnabout, the EU has announced it no longer has legal grounds to block the Russian-backed Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline to Europe. Brussels now wants security negotiations with Moscow, reports The Wall Street Journal.
The European Union tried to thwart the extension of the pipeline following pressure from Poland and the Baltic States.
The pipeline will double Nord Stream’s existing capacity, which delivers natural gas to Germany under the Baltic Sea bypassing Ukraine. The gas transit contract between Moscow and Kiev expires in December 2019 and has not yet been extended.
In a March 28 letter to Denmark and Sweden, seen Thursday by The Wall Street Journal the European Commission said it had no grounds to stop the pipeline.
“We don’t like Nord Stream-2 politically,” said Anna-Kaisa Itkonen, an energy spokeswoman at the Commission, as quoted by the media.
“This being said, there are no legal grounds for the Commission to oppose Nord Stream-2…because [EU] rules do not apply to the offshore part of the pipeline,” she added.
Poland and other Eastern European EU countries will lose lucrative transit fees if Russia ceases to use the existing pipelines.
On the other hand, Germany opposed political interference in the pipeline, as it is profitable for Berlin and is backed by major European companies.
When Nord Stream’s capacity is doubled to 110 billion cubic meters a year, it will cover Germany's and France’s combined annual consumption of gas.
Moscow has repeatedly said Nord Stream-2 is strictly about business, as it improves European energy security.
Russia says it wants to bypass Ukraine because it is concerned about a repeat of the gas crisis in 2006. That winter, parts of Europe were left without heat after Ukraine allegedly siphoned off gas sent to the European market.