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The EU reached agreement on the "Nord stream-2"

10 February 2019

Putting EU energy independence at risk?

Berlin had been against the new European Union directive but, after France threatened to use its weight to push it through, agreed to a compromise where German regulatory officials would oversee projects like Nord Stream 2, but with European Union regulators having the final say, according to Macron's office.

France had long raised concerns in private about the pipeline, not wanting to be seen as supporting the US stance, and French President Emmanuel Macron discussed it at least four times with Merkel, said another source familiar with the issue.

Speaking at a meeting of the so-called Visegrad States - the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia - in Bratislava, German Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed the issue of energy independence saying, "There is no way that we intend to make ourselves exclusively dependent on Russian Federation". "We said we will continue to use and liquefied gas", she said.

Although Russia accounts for 30 percent of gas imports to Europe, natural gas makes up less than 10 percent of the bloc's overall energy mix. According to SZ, Germany, which is against the new regulation, has resisted attempts to change the EU rules to let the European Commission gain leverage over Nord Stream 2.

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What are the worries with Nord Stream 2?

The German company Uniper said it was "fully committed" to the planed Nord Stream 2 pipeline, despite "a very bad feeling" about United States sanctions against Russian Federation.

Chancellor Angela Merkel hailed the vote as an example of Berlin's close ties with Paris after the two major European powers, which both have firms invested in the project, were publicly at odds ahead of the EU meeting.

The route of Nord Stream 2 bypasses Ukraine, thus robbing it of transit fees and making Germany western Europe's main distribution hub. For now, it is only known that French President Emmanuel Macron has canceled his participation in the Munich Security Conference, where he was scheduled to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel next week. "This day, I think it's good, and he would not have taken place without the German-French cooperation", she said.

Kay-Olaf Lang from the German Institute for worldwide and Security Affairs, Warsaw, told Germany's Deutsche Welle that the pipeline represented "German disloyalty towards its eastern neighbour, and of a special relationship with Russian Federation".

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France's defection is also surprising, because one of the financial investors in Nord Stream 2 is Engie, a French-led multinational company.

Now that the European Commission's gas regulation proposal has gained enough support from member states, negotiations with the European Parliament to finalise the reform could begin as early as next week.

It would have forced Russian firm Gazprom to lose its monopoly on Nord Stream 2, posing questions on the project's business model.

Bütikofer later released a tweet with the words, "If you can't bang your head through a wall, at some point you should stop charging into it".

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The EU reached agreement on the