On 28 March, the European Commission sent a letter to Denmark and Sweden, stating its position on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
According to experts from Poland's Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW) think-tank, the EC said that "the project is not consistent with the objectives of the Energy Union, because it does not give access to new sources of gas, and strengthens the position of Russia as the largest supplier in the European market".
But, "the EC letter confirmed that the rules for applying EU law, including the Third Energy Package [which regulates the block’s gas and electricity markets] to gas pipelines built along the sea bottom are unclear," the OSW added.
The letter stated that the EC will try to receive a mandate from EU governments to negotiate an agreement with Russia, so that some of the general principles of energy law would apply to the offshore part of Nord Stream 2.
“It is dangerous and dubious. Would not such a deal between the EU and Russia modify EU law, opening up gaps only for the sake of Russia?,” Jacek Saryusz Wolski, a Polish Member of the European Parliament, said in an interview with the PAP news agency.
“It would be enough to apply existing rules and the problem is gone. Like in the case of South Stream [a gas pipeline project blocked by the EU],” Saryusz-Wolski said.
The Polish MEP told PAP that instead of proposing negotiations, the European Commission should clearly state that the Third Energy Package is applicable to the territorial waters of EU member states.
According to Saryusz-Wolski, “the Commission has the power to stop Nord Stream 2,” but it is “internally divided.”
“Those with ties to the Directorate-General for Energy think that EU energy law, the third package, is applicable to territorial waters, while according to the other part of the Commission legal tricks can be used to carry out this [Nord Stream 2] project,” the MEP said.
Nord Stream 2 would run through the waters of four EU countries – Denmark, Finland, Germany and Sweden.
If the offshore part of Nord Stream 2 falls under EU energy law, Gazprom will have to grant third parties access to the pipeline, while gas supplies by the company could be restricted.
Saryusz-Wolski told PAP that there are many countries in the EU that would like to halt the project if they were backed by the Commission, including Denmark, but none of them wants to risk a lone objection.
On Monday, the Financial Times reported that the Danish government was putting forward a bill that could block the Nord Stream 2 project by changing national law.
The planned pipeline has been staunchly opposed by the government in Warsaw, which asked the European Commission to conduct a probe into the initiative.
The Nord Stream 2 project aims to deliver Russian gas to Germany through the Baltic Sea, bypassing Poland and other countries in the region.
Source: PAP, Financial Times, OSW