France, Germany Strike Deal on Nord Stream 2 Amid Disagreement
France had earlier decided to support amendments to the Gas Directive that would give the European Commission more powers over the Russian-European Nord Stream 2 pipeline, while Germany continued to oppose the move.
France and Germany have struck a compromise agreement on regulations concerning the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, according to a draft obtained by AFP. The agreement empowers Berlin as the key negotiator with Russia on the pipeline project and guarantees that any rules will be applied by the “territory and territorial sea of the member state where the first interconnection point is located”. This point is located on German territory.
A previous wording of the proposed changes to the European Gas Directive suggested that the EU rules would extend to “the territory of the member states” and or the “territorial sea of the member states”. Under the compromise agreement, Germany will itself be able to determine the rules under which Nord Stream 2 will operate.
The draft agreement between France and Germany has reportedly been submitted for discussion among EU ambassadors, working on revising the EU Gas Directive.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel previously refuted claims that the Nord Stream 2 project would make Berlin dependent on Russia by stating that it will not be the case if her country diversifies its energy suppliers. She also slammed proposed changes to the European Gas Directive that Moscow sees as aimed at torpedoing the pipeline project.
At the same time, France changed its position and decided to support the proposed amendments despite Germany’s objections. Paris has cited fears of more dependency on Russia in connection with the Nord Stream 2’s introduction and “strategic problems” in the relationship between the EU and Moscow as the motivation behind its move.
The proposed new regulations would give the European Commission considerable leverage over Nord Stream 2, if they are adopted. They will extend EU energy rules to gas pipelines from third countries to Europe and will give the European Commission power to demand a separation of gas sales and pipeline operating activities, as well as third-party access to a pipeline. It is believed that the amendments in question mainly target the Russian pipeline project Nord Stream 2.
Nord Stream 2 is a joint venture of Russian gas giant Gazprom and several European companies. Once completed, it will be capable of delivering 55 billion cubic metres (1.9 trillion cubic feet) of Russian natural gas annually to the European Union.