Germany is effectively blocking initiatives that can, if not block, at least imply the EU law towards Nord Stream 2 investment, criticized by the European Commission. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to Poland may be the last opportunity to speak honestly about this topic. Germany should support the revision of the gas directive if they want to remain credible in the Energy Union project, writes Wojciech Jakóbik, editor-in-chief of BiznesAlert.pl.
Angela Merkel’s visit to Poland
On March 19 in the evening, German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Poland to talk about a number of issues, one of the key from Poland’s view is Nord Stream 2. It is an investment in a gas pipeline from Russia to Germany across the Baltic Sea, which according to supporters – like German companies BASF / Wintershall and E.on / Uniper are good business because they will give cheap gas. A similar view is the government in Berlin, which avoids discussing that it is a business venture.
The last time this position was confirmed by Heiko Mass, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany, during a visit to Warsaw on March 16. – We want to conduct a dialogue, but it is a commercial and economic project. I think it will continue to be treated like that – said Mass. Poland expresses its readiness to further develop economic cooperation with Germany, the main economic partner of our country in the European Union. The parties have stayed their own in the assessment of the Nord Stream 2 project.
Meanwhile, in March, there may be a vote on the proposed amendment to the gas directive presented by the European Commission, which could subordinate Nord Stream 2 to the law and possibly delay it, but not block it. Berlin also criticizes this solution, which raises concerns about the constructiveness of resistance in defense of Nord Stream 2 and is a confirmation that the umbrella of our western neighbor is spread over the project.
Russia is testing the response of the West
This is ridiculous in the face of Russia’s increasingly aggressive behavior. Nord Stream 2 is a Gazprom project, which is a 100% shareholder of the company with the same name. German companies are lenders, but even in this way they legitimize the regime, which probably once again attempted to murder its enemy in the European Union, Sergey Skripal. The same regime took place on Sunday 18 March the ritual of the “presidential election” in which Vladimir Putin again won. Maintaining support for Nord Stream 2 is also a blow to Ukraine, which Germany supports in other areas. The Ukrainians revealed that in January 2018 Gazprom could deliberately manipulate the level of gas transmission through their territory in order to check the readiness of the transmission system for possible limitation or interruption of supplies.
This could have been connected with the transfer of the supply control center from the headquarters of Gazprom Export in Berlin to Russia. The tap with Russian gas is beyond the control of Europe. Ukrtransgaz has data on the transmission from Russia, which changed in January as if the Russians were testing the endurance of the Ukrainian system, first fell one thread, then the second and third, then only one and again another acted. The finale of these tests was the failure to comply with the ruling of the arbitration tribunal and the resignation from established gas supplies to Ukraine in March this year, which was also criticized by Berlin.
The lack of an adequate response from the European Union to defend a partner from the Energy Community will mean that the tests carried out by Russia have been positively received by Putin, and that some members of the Community may be treated worse than the first speed Europe. This is a simple recipe for disintegration in the energy sector. If Germany agrees to Nord Stream 2 and will not allow the revision of the gas directive, the gas pipeline will operate in the legal vacuum (Commission statement), and the Russians will be free to manipulate the level of supply. Possible breaks or restrictions will explain the technical problems, as in the 2017 holiday, when a gas leaked for Polish supplies, forcing Poles to stop import from Russia, which was described by BiznesAlert.pl. Ultimately, further cooperation with Moscow after Berlin officially admitted that it tried to interfere in the democratic process in their territory is at least troublesome. It also gives rise to criticism of the pro-European policy of pro-Western Poland by nationalist forces proposing a rapprochement with Russia in exchange.
One gesture is enough
It can be seen that Germany does not want to abandon economic cooperation with Russia despite the poor credibility of this partner. This is shown by Nord Stream 2, but also by the asset exchange accompanying this project. BASF / Wintershall entered the ‘gas pipeline’ system. Wintershall owns 24,99 percent of the Yuzhno-Russkoye shares, and Gazprom is the first investment partner to have 35 percent of its profits. In March, information appeared that despite the supply of Siemens turbines in the Crimea, the German company wants to deliver further devices of this type to Chechnya, not taking into account the risk. This is a scandal to explain in talks in Warsaw.
Chancellor Angela Merkel will probably not want to give up business with Russia, which would be difficult in the face of her coalition partner’s involvement in business relations with the Russians, which is a prominent example of Gerhard Schroeder, formerly the Chancellor and currently a Gazprom lobbyist. Perhaps it would support, although a compromise solution in the form of a novel of the gas directive. If Nord Stream 2 has to be built, maybe it could be built in accordance with European law a few years later? Chancellor, after reading this text, I appeal for this one concession to Poland and the entire Energy Union. After a number of concessions to Russia, it would be a good solution to save the image of the federal republic.
P.S .: What can we give in return? After all, it was Siemens that could build PGE’s gas blocks and other companies determined for a return on energy.