STRASBOURG – Two members of the European Parliament on February 12 renewed their opposition to the Nord Stream-2 natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, reiterating earlier concerns that it would boost the European Union’s reliance on Russian gas monopoly Gazprom and reduce the gas transit via Ukraine.
On February 8, EU ambassadors in Brussels agreed to toughen regulations on Nord Stream-2 but after German-French compromise the Gas Directive will be applied to Nord Stream-2 only in German territorial waters. “It’s a compromise, but I still believe that we should work for a better differentiation of our energy resources and therefore Nord Stream-2 is going too far and will lead us to too strong dependency on Russian energy,” German MEP Elmar Brok, a member of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), told New Europe in an interview on February 12 in Strasbourg.
He claimed that the project has only partial support from the German government. “Part of the German government; the (former German Chancellor Gerhard) Schroeder part of the government, if I say it mildly. But this is not the government driving (this project) but it is a contrast between companies. But I believe it’s not just a business thing. Energy is always a question of security and strategy,” Brok said.
Nord Stream-2 AG, the consortium responsible for the construction and operation of the pipeline, has signed financing agreements for the project with France’s ENGIE, Austria’s OMV, Royal Dutch Shell, as well as Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall.
According to the German-French compromise on February 8, the German National Regulatory Authority would be in charge of agreeing arrangements for Nord Stream-2. But Brok stressed that the European Commission would have the final word to make sure that EU rules are applied. “Someone has to do that but it’s always under the control of the European Union. But we have to see how the further legislative process goes. This agreement is no agreement until the European Parliament has approved it,” the German MEP said.
The 55-billion-cubic metre Nord Stream-2 pipeline is expected to deliver Russian gas to Germany under the Baltic Sea, while at the same time bypassing Ukraine. Some European states and the United States oppose Nord Stream-2 over concerns that the gas pipeline would increase Europe’s dependence on Russian gas and diminish the importance of gas transit via Ukraine.
“This is the German policy, to make it clear that Ukraine as a transit country is still used and if the Russians violate that, then we have a new situation. I believe it should be made very clear that we have to do energy policy in a common European interest and that we need diversification and that should be kept in mind,” Brok said.
Regarding the current transit contract between Russia’s Gazprom and Ukraine’s Naftogaz, which expires on December 31, 2019, Brok said the two sides have to renew it. “That is what (Russian President) Mr (Vladimir) Putin promised (German Chancellor) Mrs (Angela) Merkel. We’ll see how Mrs Merkel will deal with it,” Brok said.
Meanwhile, Greens/EFA co-President Ska Keller from Germany told New Europe in Strasbourg on February 12 that her party opposes Nord Stream-2. “We don’t think that Nord Stream is a good idea because it makes the EU – Germany in particular, but it is part of the EU – more dependent on Russian gas and also it circumvents Ukraine but also Poland in the question of access to Russian energy,” Keller said.
“From a geopolitical reasoning, from our point, is a bad idea. But from a climate political view is not a good idea because it would manifest fossil use inside the EU – again Germany in that case – for the next many decades and that is not wise. That’s not where our energy strategy should be heading for many reasons,” Keller argued, adding: “It divides Europe, that’s the big problem and it should be the policy of Germany to foster European integration and not to divide especially not have an East-West division here.”
follow on twitter @energyinsider