Germany’s new foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, has said the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline from Russia can’t be launched yet because it doesn’t meet EU energy requirements and “safety” concerns are outstanding.
Baerbock, a Green politician who assumed her role in the Foreign Ministry this week, discussed the fate of the multinational project in an interview with the broadcaster ZDF on Sunday. She insisted it still hadn’t met all that was required for it to be certified.
“As things stand at the moment, this pipeline cannot be approved because it does not meet the requirements of European energy law, and the safety issues are still on the table,” she said.
The Greens have openly opposed the pipeline and, during the recent election campaign and called for a halt to its construction. Their coalition partners from the social-democratic SPD have been more reserved in expressing their opinion of the project.
Apart from the certification hurdles, the fate of the pipeline is directly linked to politics, Germany’s new SPD Chancellor Olaf Scholz has signaled, reiterating Berlin’s commitment to preserving the current transit of gas through Ukraine, for which Ukraine is remunerated by Russia, to the tune of billions of dollars annually.
“We continue to feel responsible for ensuring that Ukraine’s gas transit business remains successful. The same goes for future opportunities,” Scholz said during a joint press conference with Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki earlier in the day.
Scholz’s predecessor, Angela Merkel, had voiced her support for the pipeline, arguing that the project would secure a steady supply of natural gas for Europe as a whole. Merkel had similarly linked the prospects of launching the pipeline with the preservation of the current Ukrainian transit arrangement, however.
The project, which runs from Russia to Germany across the Baltic Sea bed, has faced multiple issues during its construction, ranging from the environmental concerns raised by several European nations to the direct pressure from and sanctions levied by Washington. Pipelaying operations for Nord Stream 2 commenced back in 2018, and were completed this September, after numerous roadblocks were surmounted. The project is still not supplying natural gas, however, and its certification process has been on hold since mid-November.