Germany Alone To Control Russian Gas Pipeline As France Caves In

  • Date: 09/02/19
  • EU Observer

Germany alone will decide whether to enforce EU law on its new gas pipeline with Russia, after France caved in during last-minute talks on the issue.

The legal regime to be imposed on the pipeline, called Nord Stream 2, will come from the “territory and territorial sea of the member state [Germany] where the first interconnection point is located”, EU diplomats agreed in Brussels on Friday (8 February).

Previous wording of the new law on offshore pipelines had said EU single market rules had to be applied on the “territorial sea of the member states”.

The redacted wording meant European laws would have automatically covered all offshore pipelines in EU seas.

That would have forced Russian firm Gazprom to surrender its monopoly on Nord Stream 2, destabilising the project’s business model.

It would also have legally barred Russia from using it to impose gas cut-offs on Western states, such as Poland and Ukraine, in its neighbourhood.

Leaving Germany the option whether or not to impose the EU laws on Nord Stream 2 might see Gazprom keep its monopoly.

But a spokesman for French president Emmanuel Macron said Friday’s compromise still meant there was “European control”.

“The dependence on Russian gas worries us. For that reason, it is important to us to ensure European control so that this dependence does not increase,” he said in Paris.

“There is no French-German crisis,” he added.

“Regarding the gas directive, we have reached an agreement and this was possible because Germany and France worked closely together,” German chancellor Angela Merkel said the same day in Berlin.

The compromise was a climb-down for France, which had indicated on Thursday that it would back the tougher wording on automatic EU rules on offshore pipes.

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